(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. said about 6.2% of its adult population, or 3.5 million people, are suffering lingering affects from the coronavirus that harm wellbeing and the ability to work.
The Office for National Statistics said that six in 10 of those it surveyed who said they were affected by “long-Covid” said the disease hurt their general wellbeing, and half of those said to the condition made it difficult for them to do their job.
The figures suggest a long-lasting impact both financially and socially from the virus that first hit the U.K. in early 2020. Prime Minister Boris Johnson removed most restrictions to containing the spread of infections this week even though new cases are rising at the fastest pace since the government ordered a third national lockdown in January.
“We’ve found more people who may have had long Covid report negative impacts,” Tim Vizard, principal research officer at the ONS, said in a statement on Wednesday. “More work is needed to disentangle the effects of long Covid from a variety of factors such as age, sex or disability.”
There is no universally agreed definition for long Covid. The government earlier this week launched a study with the National Institute for Health Research to develop new diagnosis and treatment tools.
“Long Covid can have serious and debilitating long-term effects for thousands of people across the U.K. which can make daily life extremely challenging,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said earlier this week.
Long Covid is more prevalent in deprived areas. Age is another important factor, with people under 50 seeing a higher risk of enduring effects from the disease.
It’s set to harm more young people, the segment of the population that has yet to receive full vaccination against the virus. It could exacerbate staff shortages that hospitality firms have been complaining has forced them to curtail their businesses at times.
More than 120 scientists warned of the risks of the governments plan in a letter for the “Lancet” medical journal on July 7, saying that it “risks creating a generation left with chronic health problems and disability, the personal and economic impacts of which might be felt for decades to come.”
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