Coronavirus patients could suffer “extreme tiredness and shortness of breath for several months”, government scientists have warned.

Newly-released papers by the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies show concern that the virus may cause long-term health problems.

Its meeting of May 7 discussed a number of complications that have now been linked to Covid-19, including strokes, kidney disease and dysfunctions of other organs.

And scientists expressed concern that the novel virus may have long-term effects, which could last for several months.

After discussing a number of rare complications and symptoms of the disease, the minutes state: “Sage also noted the existence of longer-term health sequelae (such as the persistence of extreme tiredness and shortness of breath for several months) and the importance of monitoring these impacts through longer-term cohort studies.

One scientific advisor to the Government said that follow up clinics of patients who survived the acute illness found “a very high proportion who cannot get back to a normal life.”

Research is continuing to investigate how long long-term effects may last, with concern that some patients could suffer significant damage, with many left exhausted. 

Last week the head of the NHS warned that thousands of people may need NHS help to recover from the damage caused by the virus.

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “While our country is now emerging from the initial peak of coronavirus, we’re now seeing a substantial new need for rehab and aftercare.”

“Some may need care for tracheostomy wounds, ongoing therapy to recover heart, lung and muscle function, psychological treatment for post-intensive care syndrome and cognitive impairment, while others may need social care support for their everyday needs like washing and dressing,” he said.

Last week the first NHS hospital dedicated to helping coronavirus patients recover from the long-term effects of the illness received its first patients. Surrey’s NHS Seacole Centre opened at Headley Court, a former rehab centre for injured soldiers.

The model will be rolled out across the country, with a focus particularly on helping those in need of neurorehabilitation, respiratory and cardiac complications.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists said it was “incredibly worried about what we think might be a tsunami in demand that we do not have services to respond to.”

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