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Persistent post-COVID syndrome, also referred to as “long COVID”, is an illness which involves persistent, physical, medical injury following primary acquisition of COVID-19. At less than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic many long-term effects of SARS-COV-2 infection remain unclear. However, medical journals have confirmed that new evidence is emerging rapidly about symptom profiles and the rehabilitation needs of COVID-19 survivors in the initial months of their recovery.
In an article published in the British Medical Journal on the 23rd of December 2020, it was stated that long-COVID was thought to incur in 10% of people infected with COVID-19. There are likely more than 5 million people affected globally.
COVID-19 survivors have frequently reported persistent neurological and other symptoms following hospital discharge, including memory loss, fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pain, chest pain, and, in some cases, sleep disorders.
Liam Moloney Co-Chair of PEOPIL’s COVID-19 Litigation Section said today “with regard to possible litigation claims for possible negligent acquisition of COVID-19 these will have to centre on the fundamental issue as to how a person in a Hospital or Nursing Home was initially exposed to, and developed, COVID-19 infection.
In many cases that is an entirely unanswerable question as those who acquire infection may have caught it at home, at school, at work or on public transport. These are simply the activities of daily living which probably do not give rise to a cause of action for compensation.
However, a long term care home resident, who was previously fit and healthy, may have caught their infection from a visitor, from another resident, or from a member of the nursing home staff. In these cases, legal claims could focus upon the deficiencies in the standard of hygiene and infection prevention that permitted the infection to come into the care home and then to spread among residents”.
Abigail Holt, a UK based Barrister who has experience in dealing with Covid litigation claims also commented “in the UK the lack of provision of PPE (personal protective equipment), particularly for medical and care staff last March, April and May was a massive deficit. We know from a series of High Court Judicial review applications that the UK Government had replaced stockpiles of PPE with “just-in-time” contracts with overseas manufacturing companies. This included China as the Government did not anticipate that a global pandemic would affect supply chains with developing Countries.”
Ms Holt added “at the height of the first wave people were left trying to fashion PPE from bin liners and the like, but the focus in COVID safety messaging should be (and should have been) on the dangers of poor ventilation. The fact that this is still not the focus is a scandal.
COVID-19 is a respiratory condition spread throughout respiratory droplets, aerosols, and particles floating in the air. Yet even now the public messaging, in the UK at least, is “hands, face, space”, with the space being the least important in that hierarchy. Crucially, there is no mention of the fresh air or ventilation”.