Social care staff have been worst hit by long Covid among occupational groups in the UK, figures have revealed.
An estimated 5.47% of sector staff reported long Covid symptoms in the four weeks up to 4 December 2022, having first had suspected or confirmed Covid-19 12 weeks previously, showed data from the Office for National Statistics.
This was higher than the figures for healthcare (4.58%), the civil service or local government (4.46%) and teaching and education (4.12%).
The findings will add to concerns about the state of the adult social care workforce, with vacancies having increased by 52% in England in 2021-22. The ONS has previously found that people were less likely to participate in the labour market after developing long Covid symptoms than before they were infected with the virus. This impact was greatest among those aged 50 and over; the average age of adult social care staff in England was 45 as of March 2022.
The latest data also showed long Covid was significantly more prevalent among disabled than non-disabled people, with 10.07% of those whose activity was limited a lot, and 7.27% whose activity was limited a little, by health conditions, compared with 2.01% of those with no health conditions.
Across all groups, fatigue was the most common symptom of long Covid (reported by 71% of those with symptoms), followed by difficulty concentrating (49%), shortness of breath (47%) and muscle ache (46%).
The survey covered people living in private households, excluding those in care homes.