Many Irish stayed on welfare payments due to Long-Covid

Long-Covid is leaving many people stuck on welfare and unable to work for months, new figures show.

More than every third employee who receives sick pay after a Covid 19 illness is still on sick leave more than six months later.

The World Health Organization defines symptoms that persist three months after infection as long-Covid.

The first official data on the impact of Long-Covid on the workforce highlights not only the physical toll many workers take after infection, but also the disruption to income and costs for private sector companies.

Figures show that 35 percent of workers eligible for Extended Sick Pay were still unable to work after six months.

Since the government first introduced specific payments for private sector workers who contracted Covid-19, there have been 4,203 workers who were unable to work three months after they were initially infected.

Of those, more than a third, or 1,475, remain medically certified as unfit for work at least six months after they were first infected, according to information released in a parliamentary response from Social Protection Secretary Heather Humphreys to the independent TD Denis Naughten.

This is the only official data available in Ireland on Long-Covid and the first-ever longitudinal data on the impact of the disease on our workforce, Mr Naughten said.

“What these numbers show is that about 0.3 percent of all workers infected with SARS-CoV-2 were still unemployed six months after contracting the virus due to a doctor-confirmed illness,” he said. “It is important to note that these numbers only apply to those who never recovered from their initial infection and do not include those who made a full recovery and had a subsequent relapse with long-lasting Covid symptoms.”

A recent survey found that 6 per cent of adults in Ireland have had self-reported symptoms of Long-Covid for more than 12 weeks, with a further 3 per cent of adults self-reporting having symptoms for less than 12 weeks.

In her reply, Ms Humphreys said the allowance would be payable for up to 10 weeks if a person was diagnosed with Covid-19.

“In a case where a person is sick for more than 10 weeks, the standard sick pay may be paid for a longer period based on the person’s continued eligibility.”

Mr Naughten again called for the recognition of Covid-19 as an occupational hazard for frontline workers and urged the government to treat patients with persistent symptoms with the same urgency as the first wave of infections.

“While the Government is yet to provide Long-Covid incidence figures, there is no doubt that these Department of Social Protection figures indicate a significant challenge we face, not just within our health service, in coping and the Addressing the impact associated with this condition, but also long-Covid has a far broader impact on our workforce and has the potential to erode productivity rates,” he said.

“The numbers … just point to a much higher rate of long-Covid in the community, with many people ineligible for such benefits or returning to work, but with the disease impacting their productivity and daily lives,” Naughten said added. Many Irish stayed on welfare payments due to Long-Covid

Fry Electronics Team

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