A study has found that almost a third of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 are re-admitted to hospital within five months.
The research by Leicester University and the Office for National Statistics also found that up to one in eight die of Covid-related complications.
It found that out of 47,780 people discharged from hospital in the first wave, 29.4 per cent returned to hospital within 140 days and 12.3 per cent died.
While the coronavirus infection can last just a few days, people report symptoms of the illness for months afterwards.
The long-term effects of coronavirus can cause patients who develop heart problems, diabetes, liver and kidney conditions.
Study author Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at Leicester University, says this was the “largest study of people discharged from hospital after being admitted with Covid”.
Professor Khunti said: “People seem to be going home, getting long-term effects, coming back in and dying. We see nearly 30 per cent have been readmitted and that’s a lot of people. The numbers are so large.”
His warning comes after a study from China last week found that long Covid symptoms have been reported in one in 10 people – with symptoms three or six months after they caught the virus.
The Leicester University study has yet to be peer-reviewed and the alarming statistics are based on initial data.
But Professor Khunti said he was surprised to find that patients were returning to hospital with a different diagnosis and that many had developed further complications.
He added: “We don’t know if it’s because Covid destroyed the beta cells, which make insulin and you get Type 1 diabetes, or whether it causes insulin resistance, and you develop Type 2, but we are seeing these surprising new diagnoses of diabetes.”
Responding to the study, Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at University College London, tweeted: “This is such important work. Covid is about so much more than death. A significant burden of long-term illness after hospitalisation for Covid.”
Latest figures from Public Health Wales published on January 17 show that 1,172 new cases of the virus have been recorded to bring the total since the pandemic began to 180,161.
The overall death total with lab-confirmed coronavirus now stands at 4,274 in Wales.
- A WalesOnline report