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Doctors warn of serious mental effects on children with long Covid ahead of 19 July

13 July 2021, 07:11 | Updated: 13 July 2021, 07:20

Thomas Dunn

By Thomas Dunn

Medical experts are warning about the serious mental impact long Covid is having on children who have experienced symptoms for 12 weeks or more.

As lockdown restrictions look set to ease from Monday, many medical experts, parents and campaign groups are warning about the potentially devastating impact of long Covid on children.

While the majority of children are not severely affected by Covid, ONS data has shown that 7.4% of children aged 2-11 and 8.2% of those aged 12-16 report continued symptoms past 12 weeks since a positive test.

15-year-old Cara Hollywood from Chester caught the virus in March 2020 and has experienced ongoing symptoms ever since.

She told LBC: “I really like sport and before I got ill, I was dancing in a show every night, I would go rowing and I love playing tennis but I haven’t been able to do any of those things since.

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“At the moment, the main symptom is fatigue. But I still get stomach pains, nausea, headaches and I’m still a bit anxious since getting sick.”

In June, the NHS set up 15 specialist long Covid services for children and young people as part of a £100 million expansion of care for those suffering from the condition.

Dr Theo Anbu is the lead for the clinic at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, which runs once a month for patients with long Covid.

He said although more is being learnt about long Covid through the clinics, children “might need support about how to manage their illness and how to move on.”

He added that “it has a major impact on their interaction with family and friends” and that “this is the time when children are starting to find out who they really are.”

Last week, more than 100 scientists and doctors signed a letter accusing the UK Government of conducting a “dangerous and unethical experiment” and urged the Prime Minister to reconsider plans to abandon all coronavirus restrictions on 19 July.

The group also warned of the risks long Covid could pose to the vulnerable and children.

Sammie Mcfarland from Dorset started the campaign and support group “Long Covid Kids” after her daughter caught the virus and has been experiencing symptoms for over a year.

She told LBC that children will have “an apparent period of recovery after initial infection” but those who went on to get long Covid would “start to experience symptoms at around weeks 4 to 6.”

She agreed that the mental trauma long Covid is having on children is having a serious impact on their lives, along with dealing with the physical pain.

“For the children who aren’t able to return to school, not able to study, not able to return all the things that everyone else is able to enjoy when the world opens back up, it is a very harsh line because they have no idea when or if they will get better.”