The number of civil servants who say they have long Covid
More than twice as many civil servants reported that their day-to-day lives were being affected by long Covid last year than members of the public, new data reveal.
More than one in 10 – 10.8 per cent – said they had the condition in autumn 2022, with 7.4 per cent saying it was affecting their day-to-day life, compared to 3.3 per cent of the general public who said it was doing so.
In a Civil Service survey carried out over roughly six weeks in September and October, staff were asked whether they would describe themselves as experiencing “long Covid” – battling otherwise unexplained symptoms more than four weeks after first getting the virus.
The data published on Thursday showed that 10.8 per cent answered yes. The Cabinet Office said that, of these, six per cent said it was affecting their day-to-day lives a little and 1.4 per cent it was doing so a lot. A spokesman said this did not necessarily mean they were off work.
In a separate poll, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 3.3 percent of people living in UK households said they were experiencing self-reported long Covid symptoms affecting their day-to-day lives as of Oct 1.
Figures published by the Government on Thursday showed that Covid was the fourth leading cause of long-term sickness among civil servants in the year to March 2022 after poor mental health, musculoskeletal problems and “other” problems.
It was also the main culprit for short-term sickness, defined as periods of equal to or less than 20 working or 28 calendar days, accounting for 32.4 percent of all absences.
Overall, the average number of working days lost to sickness in the Civil Service rose by 29.5 per cent on the previous year, from 6.1 to 7.9. Absence rates varied hugely across Whitehall, ranging from 2.5 days at the former Department for International Trade to 12.1 days at the Ministry of Justice.
A major study published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year found that most symptoms of long Covid disappeared within a year and that mild disease was unlikely to lead to serious or long-term problems.
Elsewhere in the annual Civil Service people survey from last autumn, 72.9 per cent of officials said they would rate their overall physical health as good, very good or excellent.
A government spokesman said: “For any long-term absence which is granted on medical grounds, employees are able to access support they need to recover and, once healthy again, return to work.”