Sheffield marathon runner battling long Covid issues warning over lockdown easing

A Sheffield man still battling long Covid nearly a year after getting the virus says we must be cautious about easing lockdown restrictions.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 10:40 am

Tom Stayte, who is from Crookes and studied at Sheffield Hallam University, contracted coronavirus in March 2020 and had a fever, fatigue and shortness of breath.

The 32-year-old fitness enthusiast, who has run five marathons, thought he had beaten the virus after three weeks and started running again.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Tom Stayte, from Sheffield, believes greater awareness of long Covid is needed

But around a month later, those initial symptoms returned with a vengeance, along with a host of new ones including confusion and dizziness.

For three months, he barely had the strength to leave home and was unable to work, and although things are slowly improving he is far from being back to full health.

As more elderly and vulnerable people are vaccinated and pressure grows on the Government to end the lockdown, he insists the debilitating effects of long Covid must not be forgotten.

“If we open up again very quickly and people don’t know about long Covid, my worry is that lots more people will get the virus and while there may be fewer deaths a lot of them will suffer terribly for a long time to come,” he said.

Tom Stayte has run five marathons but was unable to leave his home after getting long Covid

"One in 10 people still have symptoms 12 weeks after getting Covid so it’s important everyone remains careful, no matter how young and healthy they may be.

"We’re used to seeing graphs showing the number of deaths and hospitalisations but what we don’t see is the number of long Covid cases.

"It doesn’t exist in the public consciousness in the way it should, and I think it’s really important that people understand what the risks are to them.”

Tom Stayte, from Sheffield, has urged caution over the easing of lockdown measures

When Tom developed long Covid, little was known about the condition and even his GP was at a loss to explain what was happening to him, which made it even scarier.

Understanding is improving and dedicated long Covid clinics have been set up but there is still no treatment.

“I only had a relatively mild case of Covid to begin with and thought I was better but after seven weeks all the original symptoms came back, along with many new ones,” said Tom, who runs his own events company and now lives in north London.

"I developed problems with digestion, my heart rate was out of whack, my breathing function didn’t work properly, my blood pressure was weird, I couldn’t regulate my temperature, I had trouble swallowing, I got confused, dizzy and fatigued, and I had trouble articulating myself.

"I’ve always been quite fit but this completely floored me. I couldn’t go out for about three months, I couldn’t sit at my computer writing emails for more than about half an hour at a time and I couldn't even really have a conversation with someone.

"Since then there’s been a steady return to something resembling normal life but I’m nowhere near where I was before. I can walk and go shopping but I still get tired very quickly and I can’t run.

"It’s a very frustrating illness which really is life-changing and none of us know whether we will fully recover but I remain optimistic that I will and it will just take time.”

For more about long Covid, including the support available to those with the condition, visit: www.longcovidsos.org.