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Coronavirus

HSE to launch survey to measure prevalence of long Covid in Ireland

People in Longford, Westmeath, Laois, Offaly, Kildare, West Wicklow and south Dublin will be invited to take part in the survey.

A SURVEY TO measure how prevalent long Covid is in Ireland is set to be launched by the HSE tomorrow. 

The follow-up after disease acquisition (FADA) survey aims to measure people’s recovery from the disease and provide data on those living with long Covid to help inform care going forward.

People who tested positive for Covid-19 during the pandemic and who live in Longford, Westmeath, Laois, Offaly, Kildare, West Wicklow and south Dublin will be invited by text message to take part in the online survey. 

Those selected will first receive a text message informing them they have been selected, followed by a text with a link to information about the survey.

If they wish to proceed, they will receive a text the following day with a link to the survey.

The HSE said the survey may later be extended to a wider area depending on responses and findings from the area.

Invitations will be sent on a staggered basis throughout March and April, with the HSE expecting the survey to be completed by May.

The survey will take between 10 and 20 minutes to complete, the health service said.

Questions to those who agree to participate in the survey will include when they had Covid, the current state of their health, their recovery from the disease, symptoms and social and economic impacts.

Specialist in public health medicine Dr Paul Kavanagh said the health service still wants to hear from those who have fully recovered from Covid-19.

“We want to know how many people who get Covid-19 make a full recovery, and if there are any reasons why some people take longer to recover,” he said.

“If over the coming weeks, you get a text invite to take part in our online FADA survey, we encourage you to click the link and take part. This is your chance to make your voice heard to help shape the health service as we recover from Covid-19.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One programme, consultant in public health medicine Dr Úna Fallon said the purpose of the survey is to understand the medium and long-term epidemiology of Covid-19 “so that we can get a better handle on how to direct our prevention and our public health work”.

“We would like to estimate the size of the issue the size and frequency of persistent prolonged symptoms, and we will use that information to inform the HSE long Covid model of care,” she said.

Fallon said the current long Covid care service is composed of post acute immediate clinics, long Covid clinics and tertiary referral clinics. People can be referred to the clinics through their GPs. 

She said while the HSE knows “a certain amount”, it does not have ”a full handle on the full scale of the problem, and that is what is needed”. 

“The prevalence of persistent symptoms varies hugely across studies between 5% and 10%,” she said.

“It may well be that many people have actually recovered and that there is no huge demand, but we do not know that in Ireland. We don’t know the scale or prevalence of the problem.”

The HSE also assured people that the survey will not ask for any bank details, contact details, PPS numbers, names, addresses, dates of birth or ages.

In September last year, Independent TD Denis Naughten told the Dáil that more than 21,000 people could not work because of long Covid symptoms and urged then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin to “act now” to address their care needs.

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