By Michelle Devane, PA
More than 21,000 people cannot work because of long-Covid symptoms, the Dáil has heard.
Independent TD Denis Naughten called on the Taoiseach to “act now” to address the care needs of those with symptoms.
The Roscommon-Galway TD made the remarks during Leaders' Questions on Tuesday.
Mr Naughten said: “Based on my analysis of the social welfare payments for Covid-related illnesses, lasting 12 weeks or more following the initial infection, we’re looking at some 21,000 people in Ireland who are unable to go to work due to long Covid.
“This figure does not take into account the tens of thousands who are suffering with less severe forms of long Covid, who are going to work but not contributing to the same extent that they did prior to the illness.
“Nor does it take into account the thousands of people who recover from the initial infection but had a subsequent relapse.”
He warned that it could lead to “very significant future burden of disease”.
“We need to act now and we need to act in a comprehensive way,” he added.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he wants to see a “more uniform framework” to deal with long Covid issues.
He described the issues raised by Mr Naughten as “very serious”, adding that the Government would like to see money “ring-fenced” for long Covid issues in the forthcoming budget.
“About €2.2 million has been allocated so far. But an epidemiological survey is being planned that will provide insight into the prevalence of long Covid in the Irish population,” Mr Martin said.