Scots suffering from long Covid believe not enough is being done to support them.
Those who contracted the virus at the beginning of the pandemic and are still feeling the effects have shared their struggles of trying to get help.
Maria Timoney, a mum-of-four from Airdrie, is a palliative care nurse.
Her life took a drastic turn when she fell ill with coronavirus in June 2020 – her chest pains were so extreme that she was admitted to hospital.
After she was discharged, her symptoms didn’t shift.
Months later, she was still struggling with the after-effects of the virus – which sometimes present themselves in unusual and unpredictable ways.
“The fatigue was overwhelming, I couldn’t get out of bed some days, and if I did get up my legs were shaky, they were really jelly-like,” she told STV News.
Maria was referred to respiratory and cardiology but her results came back all clear. She was told to “ride it out”.
Now, 21 months later, she is still suffering.
“I have a cardiac monitor I’ve been given… but it’s actually taken me nearly two years to get this investigation done because I’ve still got chest pain.
“The symptoms have maybe got a bit more manageable but I think I’m just learning to live with them,” she said.
In December last year, Maria contracted Covid-19 again.
She has been so unwell, she left work in June 2020 and is yet to return to her full hours.
“The days after I work, I’m absolutely shattered,” she said.
“I still can’t do any form of exercise. If I do anything I seem to crash after it.
“I’m still seeking medical advice which is very, very thin on the ground.”
Data has revealed that, as of the end January this year, 119,000 Scots have self-reported having long Covid.
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.
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.
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, warned of a “tsunami of long Covid cases” amid soaring positive numbers.
Symptoms can include heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness, “brain fog”, extreme tiredness, shortness of breath and insomnia.
While specialist treatment clinics and pathways have been set-up in England and Wales, the Scottish Government is yet to allocate funding from the £10m Long Covid support fund.
“We’re nearly two years down the line and that’s still the excuse that’s being used, that it’s new,” Maria said.
“And really it’s not new anymore. There’s over 50,000 people in the long Covid support group and the numbers are going up.
“The symptoms that people are having are really quite worrying symptoms, a lot of cardiac symptoms and respiratory symptoms and they’re just not getting investigated because they’re putting it under the umbrella of long Covid and it’ll go away.”
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.”