NHS Wales has developed an app for people experiencing the long-term effects of coronavirus, helping them to document symptoms and monitor their progress.
Users will be able to access advice from therapists, psychologists, dietitians and consultants, alongside videos and information on how to manage their condition from home.
People with long Covid, also known as Post-Covid-19 syndrome, continue to display symptoms consistent with the virus, including fatigue, headaches and an ongoing loss of smell or taste, for more than 12 weeks, according to health watchdog NICE.
Extended symptoms for sufferers
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that a fifth of people who have had coronavirus have symptoms for five weeks or more, while around one in 10 is affected for 12 weeks or more, with some reporting symptoms for many months after their initial diagnosis.
Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said the app was intended to reassure those with long Covid that support is at hand and to remind them they are not alone.
“This app is part of a wider national approach which has been put into place to recognise those people who months later are still feeling a range of cardiac, neurological and psychological issues,” he said.
“Anyone can download the app but we’re also asking health professionals to recommend it to their patients so that their care can continue at home long after their appointment ends.”
However, Mr Gething said GPs should still be treated as the first port of call to direct their patients to appropriate support, including giving advice to people without a smartphone.
Helping patients to manage symptoms at home
The Welsh government is advising people who experience life-threatening symptoms to contact 999, or to call the 111 online coronavirus service or their GP if they feel they are not improving or require further advice.
Dr Fiona Jenkins, executive director of therapies at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said the role of a GP was “pivotal” to manageing medically-treatable symptoms were managed appropriately.
“Where necessary, your GP can ensure you are checked and given access to specialist consultants and help guide you through your path to recovery which largely requires a rehabilitation approach for the majority of people, and the COVID recovery app has been developed for this purpose,” she said.