Long Covid: 'Very sporty' girl, 10, now battling to walk and talk after 'crippling' condition

  • Watch the report by Alexandra Hartley

A 10-year-old girl has spoken about the pain of being hardly unable to walk and the "constant headaches" she suffers after developing serious complications from Covid.

Libby Harris, 10, from Penarth was a "very fit" and "sporty" young girl before she caught Covid-19 from her brother in February 2022.

Libby said shortly after contracting the virus, it left her unable to speak properly for around five to six months.

"I get dizziness, constant headaches, body aches caused by things I did the day before. I get sickness which stops me from eating enough too."

Libby is thought to be one of 71,000 children in the UK currently living with the effects of long Covid which can include extreme fatigue and muscle aches.

Her mother also told ITV Wales about the "crippling effect" both mentally and physically it has had on her daughter.

Jo Harris, said Libby would normally be out six nights a week doing some sort of activity, but all of that has now changed.

Jo Harris said the condition has had a "crippling effect" on her daughter

Libby now spends a lot of her time in her wheelchair as she has lost most of the strength in her legs.

  • What is long Covid?

Most people with Covid-19 feel better within a few days or weeks of their first symptoms and make a full recovery within 12 weeks. That is according to the NHS.

But for some people, like Libby, symptoms can last longer.

Long COVID is a new condition which is still being studied, the NHS said.

Libby Harris struggles to walk and talk and said many days are now spent in bed

Libby lost her voice, now struggles to walk, and the illness has brought on a condition called POTS which causes an abnormal increase in heart rate.

Libby has missed school in the process of recovery but she is still not back to her normal self.

"I get annoyed because I can't do the things that I love. Clay making is the main thing I can do now.

"I can't talk properly and I hardly sleep - it doesn't help if I do something the day before. I'm in bed a lot of the day with the dog.

"There's not a lot of things to do. Physio was good but I've had to stop because it's too tiring", Libby said.

"Most doctors don't know a lot about it so they can't do much. I'm too young to have a lot of the treatment".

Libby is not alone, as figures show there are around 94,000 people in Wales who have said they are living with with long Covid.

  • What are the most common symptoms of long Covid?

The NHS class them as the following:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)

  • feeling short of breath

  • loss of smell

  • muscle aches

  • What is being done to help?

The Welsh Government said it has spent more than £10 million on a recovery programme that is rolled out through health boards.

It aims to "develop integrated, multi-professional recovery and rehabilitation service models for all people, including children, with long COVID.”

  • "It took me by surprise"

Jo Harris said her daughter was a keen swimmer, kayaker and trampolinist before she contracted the illness.

The family life has since changed, and even going on holiday has become challenging.

Jo became concerned last summer when Libby's symptoms worsened. Her local GP said the best thing Libby could do was "rest".

As things got worse, Jo decided to pay for private advice, and took Libby to Bristol to see a professor, as her heart rate had increased.

She was diagnosed with POTS. She is currently receiving treatment for it but Jo said she hasn't yet seen signs of improvement.

Jo told ITV Wales, "She had a sore throat which lasted months... she was wiped out for a long time.

"I read about a condition called POTS so she had a diagnosis and then some treatment so we've started on that but it hasn't made any difference."

They recently purchased a wheelchair for Libby because she can only walk a few steps before feeling out of breath.

Jo added, "I hope with time we will be able to make progress - but at the moment, I can just see her getting worse. It's crazy how such a fit young girl can become so poorly."

The Welsh Government said: "As with adults with long-COVID, children with the condition in Wales are being treated close to home wherever possible, rather than being seen in specialist clinics.”

Dr Monica Busse from Cardiff University who is leading research on long Covid said, "What we know is long Covid is not going away and the research we're doing... we're hearing is that symptoms are very similar and episodic, it is variable, it fluctuates but it's misunderstood.

"One of the big things is recognising this thing does exist - there is a lot of research trying to understand what is causing the condition but it's primarily, at this point, it's about trying to believe so that people can be heard."