Scotland faces a “tsunami of long Covid cases” due to government “inaction”, Scottish Labour has warned, as infection numbers break records.
The number of people in hospital with coronavirus reached record levels for five consecutive days this week, with around 2300 patients recorded each day.
Cases of the virus throughout the country reached a record high with one in 11 people in Scotland estimated to have had Covid last week – the highest rate in the UK.
Data revealed that, as of the end January this year, 119,000 Scots have self-reported long Covid.
Symptoms can include heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness, “brain fog”, extreme tiredness, shortness of breath and insomnia.
Scottish Government figures suggest that 2.9% of people who catch coronavirus are at risk of getting long Covid for 12 weeks or more after their original infection.
Public health expert Professor Linda Bauld told the Scottish British Medical Association conference on Saturday that infections will continue to rise and fall every three or four months.
She said the pandemic was “a crisis on top of all other crises” for Scotland’s NHS.
Struggling health boards have urged people to stay away from accident and emergency departments unless their condition is urgent or life-threatening as they face being overwhelmed by Covid-positive patients.
It comes as research by scientists at Edinburgh University found that those in hospital who contract coronavirus and flu at the same time are more than four times more likely to need a ventilator and more than twice as likely to die.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie has warned Scots are being “left behind” in long Covid support, despite a £10m Long Covid Support Fund announced in September 2021.
The Scottish Labour health spokesperson warned with 90 specialist long Covid clinics in England and “clearly defined” clinical support for the condition in Wales, the “SNP has turned its back on thousands of Scots”.
Baillie said: “With Covid cases still very high in Scotland, the potential for a tsunami of long Covid cases is a very worrying prospect.
“We know that well over a hundred thousand Scots are living with long Covid – but the SNP government has entirely failed to get much needed funds to health boards.
“The threat that long Covid poses to our public health and to the functioning of our economy cannot be overstated.
“That the SNP has turned its back on thousands of Scots and is not aware of the threat posed by a tsunami of long covid cases is shocking.
“Humza Yousaf must take his fingers from his ears, wake up to the problem and act to keep people safe.”
In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Support is already being delivered for those suffering from Long Covid, and we are doing more through a national Long Covid Strategic Network.
“This network is bringing together clinical experts, NHS Boards and those with lived experience to guide how we plan and design care and ensure our £10m Long Covid Support Fund is targeted at the areas where additional support can make the biggest difference.”