THE coronavirus pandemic has led to many people feeling isolated as life continues inside our own homes. But people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus are feeling more isolated and alone, particularly when they are not able to get rid of the symptoms – or find they are suffering from new symptoms.

This is called Long Covid and it is a condition that is being suffered by many people who have had coronavirus. A lot of people believe that those who have been treated in intensive care or who have underlying health conditions are the ones who will be more likely to suffer from Long Covid, however, anyone who has had coronavirus is at risk of developing Long Covid, no matter their age or initial symptoms.

Not much is being done to treat Long Covid in Wales – with a specific group called Long Covid Wales who are made up of healthcare professionals and the general public, all of whom have had coronavirus and are still suffering with the effects whether it’s a few weeks or up to a year later – who are campaigning for there to be more done to help people who are suffering with the condition.

Marcia Gilbert is 68 and lives in New Inn. She was diagnosed with coronavirus in March after contracting pneumonia for the first time at the start of 2020. On the first weekend of March she went to a poultry fair and not long after, became really ill. She went to her GP who said she had coronavirus. She would struggle to breathe and was told by 111 that she should be admitted to hospital but she refused.

“I’m 68 but a very fit 68-year-old,” Ms Gilbert told the South Wales Argus. “I have no underlying health conditions and could count on one hand the number of times I’ve visited the doctors. I said to them that if I went into hospital, I probably wouldn’t come back out. So they treated me at home.”

Ms Gilbert raises and shows poultry all across the UK – and was the first woman to win supreme champion in show at the Welsh National Championship Show. Her Long Covid symptoms have had a serious affect on her showing ability as well as her daily life.

“I used to be so active that I would feed the birds, go to Tesco, come back and do housework and be back out with the birds. I could carry a 20kg bag of feed over my shoulder and could carry two birds, one under each arm.

“Now I can barely lift one of the birds with both hands. If I want to go to Tesco I have to mentally prepare myself and take multiple trips from the car to the house with the shopping, resting in between.

“If I want to put a load of washing on, I have to have a rest for at least half an hour to recover after putting it in the machine.

“For me to carry the bird feed, I have to get a wheelbarrow, have a rest, drag the feed from the car into the wheelbarrow, have another rest and then wheel it to where I need to take it.”

Being out of breath a lot is one of Ms Gilbert’s main symptoms – and one of the most common one for many Long Covid sufferers. She also suffers from occasional ‘brain fog’, exhaustion and pain in her fingers and toes. She never knows what symptoms she will have each day. “When I wake up in the morning, I could have the pain in my joints, which makes doing everyday things difficult, but the next day, I could be struggling with my breath. Or I could be so tired that I could sleep for hours on end.”

Unfortunately for Ms Gilbert, when she brought her concerns up to her GP, she was told it couldn’t be Long Covid as she was not admitted to hospital when having coronavirus.

“The only reason I hadn’t gone in was because I refused to be admitted,” she said. “I grieve for the person I was. The person I am now, I don’t know her. She’s not me.

“I know other people are in a worse position than me but I want people to be aware of Long Covid.”

Helen James from Griffithstown had a different experience when it came to being diagnosed with Long Covid. The 64-year-old has been ill with severe Covid symptoms twice and had double pneumonia each time. She was ill for 3 to 4 weeks in December 2019 and again in March 2020. She was diagnosed with Corona virus in March by her GP who felt that it was likely she also had Covid in December. She has not fully recovered since March and her GP told her she had Long Covid soon after as she was unable to shake symptoms.

“I avoided hospital as I had a CPAP machine at home and used that 24 hours a day for nearly 4 weeks. My doctor said that probably saved my life as if I had gone into hospital, they wouldn’t have treated me.”

Ms James has underlying health conditions but none of which are known to make symptoms of coronavirus worse. “I’ve had 22 emergency admissions to hospital with my stomach, all of which were life threatening. I’ve got through them all and I won’t give up but with Long Covid, I’m just so tired and exhausted”.

Like Ms Gilbert, Ms James also struggles with her breathing and with exhaustion. She also suffers with heart palpitations and issues with her kidneys. “There’s not always the really bad days, but on the days when I have a little bit of energy I have to be careful what I do and often it is a successful day if I manage to have a shower and get dressed. If I attempt too much it can put me back in bed for days”.


Both women believe that people suffering from Long Covid need help and like the Long Covid Wales group, they are calling for specialised clinics to be set up where patients can be treated with a multi-agency approach.

“Doctors are trained to see the one problem and try to fix that problem. With Long Covid it needs to all be looked at together. Someone needs to stand up and say ‘yes that’s Long Covid, this is how we’re going to treat it,” said Ms James.

“I have issues with my heart, my lungs and my kidneys which I did not have before. The Long Covid groups on social media have helped me so much to understand what this is and the support from others in the same situation has been so helpful. Not all people affected have access to this information and support which is a pity. A specialised Long Covid clinic in this area would make this information available and provide a co-ordinated approach for all those suffering after having Covid.

“Not everyone has the same symptoms,” said Ms Gilbert. “Which is why you need a multi-agency approach and specialist clinics where they can work with you to assess your symptoms and create an individual treatment plan.

“Clinics are available across England for people with Long Covid but we have none here in Wales.”

Anyone who believes they are suffering from Long Covid can find out more about the work Long Covid Wales does and join the community through or