Wednesday, 13 October 2021
Department of Health
222. To ask the Minister for Health if his Department will undertake research to discern the number of persons in Ireland that are living with long Covid and to produce recommendations to him regarding a national response to long Covid including provision of occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nutrition and dietetics and counselling. [50041/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 and 223 together.
COVID-19 is a new disease so information on it, its features, incidence and its course are still emerging. Scientific and clinical evidence is evolving on the long-term effects of COVID-19. An increasing number of reports and studies are now being published on the topic, however, at present there is no agreement on the definition or the terminology.
It is recognised that persistent and prolonged symptoms can occur after acute COVID-19 infection in a proportion of patients, including in some patients who did not develop symptoms severe enough to require hospitalisation. My Department, through the Health Research Board, continues to fund research into the clinical impacts of COVID-19.
Patients with persistent symptoms following COVID-19 infection may be followed up by their GP or in hospital settings as clinically appropriate. People in the community who are concerned about persistent symptoms following Covid-19 should contact their GP in the first instance. Treatment is currently focused on management of specific symptoms.
Specific guidance on the treatment of 'Long COVID' is presently under development both here and internationally. You may wish to note that the HSE is recruiting for the position of an Implementation Lead to oversee the implementation of a national model of care.
The HSE is currently assessing need and the best way to care for those impacted by Long COVID to ensure the appropriate supports are in place. As part of this work on post-COVID care, the HSE is examining how it can model the possible numbers that will be affected, noting that this will take time as more evidence emerges. I understand that the HSE has also been in touch with a group of people who are suffering post-COVID symptoms to inform understanding.
My Department will continue to develop an understanding of the implications of Long COVID to inform policy as appropriate.