A previously healthy schoolgirl is suffering from severe “long Covid” and has been too ill for school since October.
Eight-year-old Anna Hendy first caught coronavirus in April along with mum Helen Goss, 37, and her partner in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Anna has since had to go into hospital twice in the past ten months and was even so tired she would sleep at her desk at school.
She then became so anxious she was too frightened to go inside after being affected by the severe symptoms of “long Covid”.
At the end of April Anna became really ill and had a fever which reached 40C, a rash, muscle weakness, fast heart rate and changes to her taste and smell – now suspected to be post-viral illness Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS).
Stay-at-home mum Helen had done two years’ nursing training and drew up an “obs chart” including taking her daughter’s temperature and monitoring her fluid intake.
When Anna had not urinated for twelve hours, Helen phoned NHS 24 and was advised by a medic at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s Covid hub to bring her in if nothing changed within the next two hours.
However, as Anna did then manage to go to the toilet her mum decided not to take her into hospital – and now wonders if the symptoms would be as persistent if her daughter had been admitted then.
She now experiences recurrent symptoms including headaches, muscle aches, nausea and getting flushed cheeks, as well as a rash reappearing and feeling heavy and slow.
Mum-of-one Helen believes childhood “Long Covid” has been completely overlooked and fears the healthcare system could be overwhelmed if children are sent into schools which do not have the resources to make them well ventilated and with distancing.
Helen said: “It is such a shame for schools because they have been put in a position where people are saying ‘schools are safe’.
“It is a huge gamble with health but you can catch up with education.”
The family were diligently trying to avoid catching Covid, wiping down shopping and staying indoors to the point where Helen questioned whether they could have caught it from their cats.
She said the public perception that children were not at serious risk from Covid was incorrect, as her daughter had no underlying health issues when she caught it.
Helen said: “On Anna’s first day back at school she was so, so tired, she was like a little zombie putting her head down on the desk.
“She is a conscientious child and not naughty, and I thought we would persevere as education is super important.”
One of the side effects Anna has experienced is difficulty sleeping, and she was unable to concentrate – but Helen said the school and local authority had done everything they could to support her, including getting an educational psychologist involved.
Helen said: “She physically couldn’t get herself into school, she was too frightened of catching it again.
“None of her friends had had it, it was a very isolating experience.
“I have got no idea how we got it, I was wiping down shopping, doing everything possible.”