Covid-19 is a new disease so information on it, its features and its course are still emerging. Scientific and clinical evidence is evolving on the long-term effects of COVID-19. An increasing number of reports and studies are now being published on the topic, however, at present there is no agreement on the definition or the terminology.
We do however, know that the clinical course of viral illnesses varies between people, and that the virus that causes Covid-19 can be detected in some people for many weeks. However, this does not mean that people are infectious for a prolonged period of time.
People who have had Covid-19 are being followed up by their GP or in hospital settings. People in the community who are concerned about persistent Covid-19 symptoms should contact their GP. Treatment is currently focused on management of specific symptoms.
Specific guidance on the treatment of Long Covid is presently under development both here and internationally.
The HSE is assessing need and the best way to care for those impacted by Long COVID. I can advise the Deputy that the HSE as part of its work on post-Covid care, is now looking at how it can model the possible numbers that will be affected, noting that this will take time as more evidence emerges. I understand that the HSE has been in touch with and will be engaging with a group of people who are suffering post-Covid symptoms to inform understanding. Guidance is being developed to align needs with care provision and to develop criteria and strategies for the ongoing evaluation of patients.
The Department of Health will continue to develop an understanding of the implications of Long Covid to inform policy as appropriate.