Long Covid in Yorkshire: How many people have it, how is it diagnosed and what are the symptoms?

One in 30 people in Yorkshire now suffer from Long Covid, shocking figures show.

There are now more than two million people across the UK with Long Covid and in Yorkshire, an estimated 194,000 people reported experiencing long-lasting effects of Covid-19 infection in the four weeks to May 1, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

This represents 3.7 per cent of the population. It’s a higher rate than the UK average of 3.1 per cent.

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Many of the people with Long Covid in Yorkshire have been living with it for some time.

Makeup by Cerise artist Laura Power still suffers from Long Covid symptomsMakeup by Cerise artist Laura Power still suffers from Long Covid symptoms
Makeup by Cerise artist Laura Power still suffers from Long Covid symptoms

An estimated 87,000 people, 45 per cent of those with Long Covid, were first infected with Covid-19 at least a year before.

“I'd wake unable to breathe, unable to hear properly, my vision would go 'shimmery' and then I'd get uncontrollable shakes,” said Sarah Hurst from Ilkley who first contracted the virus at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.

Mrs Hurst’s symptoms were all in line with covid and became severe enough to warrant a visit from the emergency services.

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Around 10 months later she was also diagnosed with Long Covid as her symptoms and the after effects had taken so long to improve.

After: Mel Mckay said she lost a lot of hair as a result of Long CovidAfter: Mel Mckay said she lost a lot of hair as a result of Long Covid
After: Mel Mckay said she lost a lot of hair as a result of Long Covid

“During my first bout of covid I started a video diary of my symptoms. I never did publish this video to my YouTube channel as my recovery took such a long time it seemed pointless by the time I felt better,” said blogger Mrs Hurst.

But despite having had both vaccines and a booster jab at 12 weeks pregnant, Mrs Hurst contracted Covid again at 25/26 weeks pregnant along with the rest of her family.

Mrs Hurst who is now a week and a half away from her caesarean date, said: “The baby seems to be doing ok though. I had to have a growth scan to check Covid hadn’t impacted the placenta and that seemed ok, but I was diagnosed with polyhydramnios (excess fluid) which they were unable to determine why.

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“My heart rate was really high for weeks after covid but seems to have settled a bit now. It’s all very ‘unknown’ really.”

Mel Mckay pre-Covid when she said her hair was thickerMel Mckay pre-Covid when she said her hair was thicker
Mel Mckay pre-Covid when she said her hair was thicker

Mrs Hurst said her Long Covid symptoms have included waking in the night unable to move her arms and legs as well as substantial hair loss.

“I'd always had very thick hair and it became so sparse and fell out constantly,” said Mrs Hurst.

Melanie Mckay, from Bridlington, also experienced hair loss as a result of Long Covid.

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“Before I contracted Covid while I was in hospital, I had beautiful thick curly hair and now it's fairly thin and frizzy. I'm having to use specialist shampoo and conditioner and also mousse to help it look anything like it used to.”

Blogger Sarah Hurst contracted Covid for the second time while pregnancyBlogger Sarah Hurst contracted Covid for the second time while pregnancy
Blogger Sarah Hurst contracted Covid for the second time while pregnancy

Miss Mckay said that her taste and smell also went and only her taste has come back recently after contracting the virus in November last year.

Make-up artist and author Laura Power never imagined when she caught Covid in October 2020 that the daily headaches the virus had caused would continue four months later and her loss of taste and smell would also linger on even longer.

“Loss of taste and smell were my first symptoms which then developed into other flu-like symptoms.

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“The aching, cough and cold went away after about two weeks but the headaches and loss of taste and smell remained,” said Laura Power who took paracetamol regularly.

As Mrs Power’s sense of taste and smell began to return she noticed something wasn’t right.

“Things didn’t smell as they should. Lots of things smelt very sweet and other things I knew had a smell now had an absence of scent,” said Mrs Power who said this continues today.

The mum-of-two from Halifax said she can’t smell bad smells so she fears that this could lead to dangerous situations.

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“It initially doesn’t sound bad but I can’t tell if food like milk and meat is off so I can’t check if it's ok before I give it to my kids.

“As I can’t smell burning I worry that if there was a fire I couldn’t smell it quickly enough to get out of the house if it was burning down,” said Mrs Power whose children now smell things for her.

But Mrs Power added that she still frequently gets headaches while at work.

What are the symptoms of Long Covid?

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include a cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell, but these usually don’t last more than three weeks.

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The long-term symptoms that some people experience often vary widely and encompass both physical and neurological effects, with these lasting into weeks and even months in some cases.

The most common symptom of Long Covid is severe fatigue, while other sufferers have reported breathlessness, a persistent cough, joint pain, muscle aches and mental health problems.

The vast array of symptoms include:

Muscle aches and weakness

Severe fatigue


Chest pain


Joint pain

Skin rashes

Memory loss or lack of concentration



Struggling to think clearly

Digestive problems

Loss of taste and smell

Hearing and eyesight problems

Persistent cough

Hair loss

Why is the virus causing long-term effects?

It is believed that while the virus may have been cleared from most of the body, it can continue to linger in some small pockets which can cause longer-lasting symptoms.

As the virus can directly infect a wide variety of cells in the body, it can trigger an overactive immune system which causes damage throughout the body.

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It is thought that the immune system does not return to normal after infection and this can cause damage to how the body’s organs function, such as if the lungs become scarred. This has been seen after Sars or Mers infections, which are both types of coronavirus.

Are some people more at risk of Long Covid than others?

Developing long-term symptoms does not appear to be linked to how ill you are when you are first infected with Covid-19, but new research has identified four key factors that could increase your risk.

A recent study published in the medical journal Cell identified four common factors that can be seen in the early stages of coronavirus infections.

Researchers said these factors are often found in people who later develop long-lasting symptoms, even if the infection was mild.

The four factors thought to increase the likelihood of developing Long Covid are:

the viral load in a person’s blood

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the presence of certain autoantibodies (antibodies that recognise parts of our own body) which are often used to combat the virus and its symptoms

the reactivation of the Epstein-Barr virus, which has been known to infect people at a young age

if the patient has Type 2 diabetes

Is there a test for Long Covid?

Those suffering with long-lasting symptoms after Covid-19 infection should seek advice from a GP to discuss what impact it is having on your day-to-day life

Your doctor may suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms and rule out other things that could be causing them.

These might include:

blood tests

checking your blood pressure and heart rate

a chest X-ray

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You may then be given advice about how to manage and monitor your symptoms at home, or referred to a specialist rehabilitation service or a service that specialises in the specific symptoms you have.

More information on recovery from Covid-19 can be found on the NHS Your COVID Recovery website.