Long Covid: Early coronavirus sufferer calls for more support

Simon Clipsom, who contracted Covid in early March 2020. 

Simon Clipsom, who contracted Covid in early March 2020. - Credit: Archant

There are signs the coronavirus pandemic is on the way out, but millions of people who have contracted Covid are still feeling its effects. Chief reporter STUART ANDERSON spoke to one of them about his struggle with 'long Covid'.

One of the first people in Norfolk to contract Covid back at the start of the pandemic has called for a support group to be set up for those still dealing with the effects of the disease. 

Simon Clipsom, from Cromer, said he still felt a decade older than his actual age of 52 due to long Covid, even though two years have passed since he first felt the symptoms of coronavirus. 

Cromer Morrisons community champion Simon Clipsom returned to work while still feeling the after-effects of coronavirus.  

Cromer Morrisons community champion Simon Clipsom returned to work while still feeling the after-effects of coronavirus. - Credit: KAREN BETHELL

Mr Clipsom, who works at the town's Morrisons and is the supermarket's community champion, said: "My main issues are constant muscle pain, fatigue and exhaustion if I don't pace myself.

"I have brain fog too - a bit like having mild flu all the time, which can be very exhausting.

"Before Covid I was fit and well but now I feel 10 years older than my age."

Mr Clipsom said he had a few friends and customers who also had long Covid - one of whom developed a heart condition due to the disease and had to stop working completely. 

Nurse Maria Alexiou preparing a Covid-19 vaccination at the new mass vaccination centre at Connaught

A nurse preparing a Covid-19 vaccination. - Credit: Danielle Booden

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He said: "Sadly my brother in law died in June 2021 after testing positive in October 2020 with no initial symptoms. 

"A local support group is a great idea to share experiences and advice."

Mr Clipsom said his symptoms started in March 12, 2020, a full two weeks before the first lockdown came into force. He said: "I probably caught it a week before. I had the flu in mid February so my immune system was already compromised. 

"So it probably hit me harder than others, and hence long Covid for two years now."

Covid test centres were busy places earlier in the pandemic.

Covid test centres were busy places earlier in the pandemic.

He had to quarantine alone in his room for 28 days, and said he was bedridden for the first five weeks, looked after by his wife, Caroline.  

Mr Clipsom said: "My wife left some lovely meals at my bedroom door but sadly I couldn't eat them as my taste changed and everything tasted fatty.

"I could only eat plain crackers, plus initially I had diarrhea, lost half a stone and had a bad headache. I was only sleeping for two hours a night sitting upright for three weeks and I was too scared to sleep any longer in case I wasn't going to wake up again."

Through the following months he struggled with pneumonia and pleurisy, which caused chest pains. 

Simon Clipsom during the time he was suffering from Covid. 

Simon Clipsom during the time he was suffering from Covid. - Credit: Supplied by Simon Clipsom

"Then, in August, I had to see a nurse practitioner as I had chest pains which felt like someone standing on my chest all the time.

"This was was diagnosed as costochondritis, which slowly improved two weeks later. Then I had vertigo in November for several days, which slowly went away.

"I have researched long Covid symptoms and all these were listed."

Mr Clipsom gradually learned to walk again and was slowly phased back to work at the end of May 2020.

He said he thought the government should hold off a little while longer before lifting all Covid restrictions, an opinion he knew others at his place of work shared.

He said: "Some staff are either vulnerable or have a family member that is and so are some customers, so I would say they are most concerned.

"The government and Morrisons are still advising people to stay at home if you have symptoms or test positive so we will have to see if cases increase especially in hospital admissions.

"I think it's a bit too early and should have waited until after Easter, so we will have to wait and see. I am just glad I have had three vaccinations as well as antibodies from the virus so effectively four jabs worth, which I hope will protect me, my family, colleagues and customers."

Mr Clipsom said he was surprised to learn there were around 1.2 million people in the UK with various forms of long Covid.

He said it was time for more of a focus to be put on helping people feeling lingering effects of the disease. 

Mr Clipsom said: "I have joined a national long haul long Covid group on Facebook but would like to join a long Covid support group if there was one locally."