“He’s like a six-year-old in a 90-year-old’s body,” says Chris Ward of his son Thomas, who first fell ill last February with a fever, breathlessness and aches all over his body.
Thomas was assessed at A&E where the family was asked if they’d been to Italy – they hadn’t. They were sent home with instructions that it was a viral infection and Thomas, then five, needed to rest.
Flash forward almost a year and Thomas is still suffering – tests have since revealed he has Covid-19 antibodies. Every two or three weeks, his temperature soars. His glands are constantly enlarged and his body aches most days. Ward recently caught him walking up the stairs like a crab because of the pain.
Thomas has been given the “likely diagnosis” of long Covid by paediatricians at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. “He’s the first child they’ve seen with symptoms lasting so long and the first child they’ve given this diagnosis to.”
His case might seem unique, but it is thought Thomas is one of hundreds of children in the UK who are still not back to full health after having Covid.
Parents have told HuffPost UK they feel helpless at how much their children’s lives have been disrupted by common long-term symptoms such as fatigue, body aches and headaches – among many other debilitating symptoms.
Long Covid describes signs and symptoms that continue or develop after acute Covid-19, according to guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The issue is not widely recognised in children.
It’s been a drawn-out fight by campaigners to get the issue acknowledged in adults, which resulted in clinics being opened in the UK throughout 2020. Now, parents are fighting for the plight of their children to be recognised, too.
Layla Moran, an MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, recently addressed the plight of parents and children with long Covid in a House of Commons debate on the topic. Evidence of...