Denis Naughten TD has called on the Government to treat the surge in Long Covid patients with the same urgency as the initial Covid-19 infections.
The Roscommon-Galway TD says that Long Covid patients presenting to the health service with complex conditions would overwhelm hospitals as we begin to plan for a winter of overcrowding.
He said that in addition, these services will be put under considerable pressure due to recurring waves of Covid-19.
Symptoms of long Covid include fatigue and brain fog, which are experienced at least three months after the initial infection for significant periods of time, in some cases over 2 years.
Deputy Naughten has estimated that there are around 18,000 people with Long Covid in Galway, based on research from the Netherlands which suggests one in eight people with the virus develop longer lasting symptoms.
“We cannot just sleepwalk into a crisis of chronic illness, which will push people waiting on treatments since before the pandemic even further down already horrendous waiting lists,” said the Independent TD.
“We need to see this surge of long Covid patients managed with a co-ordinated response from Government, which based on responses that I have received previously has not been forthcoming.”
Naughten estimated that Dublin has the highest number of people suffering the long-term effects of Covid-19 with 100,650, with County Leitrim at the other end of the scale with 2,075.
The figures are based on research published earlier this month in The Lancet by a team of researchers in the Netherlands.
Research on blood donors published last month by the HSPC indicates that 69% of adults in Ireland have now been infected by the virus.
“In fact, The Lancet paper has described long Covid as ‘the next public health disaster in the making’ which clearly indicates that Government must now treat this illness and the patients with it as a matter of the utmost priority.”