Long COVID should be recognised as an occupational hazard for frontline workers, an independent TD has said.
The Social Welfare Bill is due to be debated today in the Dáil and Denis Naughten, a TD for Roscommon-Galway, plans to table an amendment to that effect.
“We’re talking about frontline healthcare workers that went into our hospitals and operations during the height of the pandemic,” he told Newstalk.
“We’re also talking about other frontline workers - like people that worked in our supermarkets and kept the doors open during the restrictions that we saw in relation to the pandemic.”
If the amendment were passed, Deputy Naughten said that those affected would be able to avail of long-term income assistance until they are able to return to work.
In August 2020, the British Medical Journal found that healthcare workers were seven times more likely to have a “severe” COVID infection than people who worked in so-called “non-essential” jobs.
Similarly, in October that year, the journal published research that concluded key workers in customer-facing roles were five times more likely to contract the virus than their colleagues.
The definition of Long COVID is when symptoms of the virus last beyond the first month of infection; such symptoms include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, memory problems, insomnia, anxiety and depression.
The HSE says there is currently “no single treatment” and recommends that sufferers eat and sleep well, limit their alcohol intake and take part in gentle exercise.
Earlier this year, the Oireachtas Library and Research Service estimated there are 114,500 people living with Long COVID in Ireland and the Beacon Hospital’s Post COVID Clinic found that its average patient is 42-years-old.
Main image: A patient suffering from Long COVID is examined in the post-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) clinic of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 21, 2022. Picture by: Alamy.com