For around one in three people, catching Covid-19 is an inconvenience that comes with 10 days of self isolation and no symptoms, and for more than 150,000 people in the UK, it has been fatal.

But there is also a third group of people, who are still suffering months after they contracted the virus.

In November, the NHS set up more than 60 clinics to help people with long-term symptoms, including the Berkshire Long Covid Integrated Service (BLIS) at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

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People who contract Covid-19 can suffer from a range of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, issues with memory and concentration, chest pain, dizziness, and joint pain.

At the specialist clinic in Reading, staff treat people who have endured with these symptoms for longer than 12 weeks, as they are the ones who are diagnosed with post-Covid syndrome, which is also known as Long Covid.

So far, more than 300 people have been referred to this clinic and each one is asked to fill out a questionnaire which asks for information about their symptoms before they are sent to see specialists who can help.

“They might see a medical physician and a respiratory therapist if breathlessness and pain is a problem or they might see a fatigue physiotherapist and a doctor if that (fatigue) is a problem,” said Dr Deepak Ravindran, the clinical lead for the BLIS.

“We’ve noted that 98 per cent of patients have fatigue.

“Then there’s shortness of breath, generalised aches and pains, anxiety and depression, chest pain, tummy problems – these are common symptoms patients have reported.”

Dr Deepak Ravindran

Dr Deepak Ravindran

According to the NHS, around one in 10 people who are infected with the virus suffer with Long Covid, which means there could be thousands of people with the condition in Berkshire.

Dr Ravindran said a small number of patients have made a complete recovery but the majority “are still struggling a lot” with their symptoms.

“A lot of Long Covid patients are people who have been fit, healthy and active and in full-time employment,” he said.

“But in our study, we’ve found that 30 per cent of people haven’t been able to go back to their jobs or have had to make significant changes to their full-time roles and need support from their employer.

“Some people are just not able to leave their house or are significantly impacted or debilitated, because of the fatigue, breathlessness, chest pain or other symptoms.”

In some cases, staff prescribe medication or physiotherapy, but they also devise strategies for fatigue and pain management, and teach patients breathing exercises.

Dr Ravindran said: “When you get an acute infection, your breathing changes and your muscles fire differently because your nervous system is overactive.

“So we have training programmes on how to breath differently and we are trying to see if singing might be a way of doing it.”

More than 90 per cent of the patients being treated at the Reading clinic showed mild or moderate symptoms when they were first infected with the virus and did not require hospital treatment, while a few say they were asymptomatic during the first few weeks.

Some have never managed to get a test, but were diagnosed with Long Covid after enduring symptoms of the condition for over 12 weeks.

Clinical research suggests people suffer with the condition because their immune system remains overactive after they contract the virus or viral fragments remain lodged in the body and the immune system responds every time it detects one of those fragments.

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A few patients claim their symptoms improved after they received a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but others have not reported any change in their condition after having a jab.

Dr Ravindran said: “For people where the viral fragment is hanging about, if you give them a vaccine it might actually end up clearing the remaining virus that’s there.

“Those are the group of people that would actually improve after vaccination, while there are others that don’t improve at all.”

However, he said there is not enough research to determine whether the vaccines have any impact on Long Covid and it is “too early to say whether vaccination actually prevents Long Covid”.

Dr Ravindran urges anyone who is suffering from long-term symptoms after contracting Covid-19 to contact their GP.