Girl, 8, with long COVID hasn’t been able to go to school since October

Anna Hendy with her mum, Helen (SWNS)
Anna Hendy with her mum, Helen (SWNS)

An eight-year-old girl with no underlying symptoms has suffered from long COVID since becoming ill with the coronavirus in April 2020.

Anna Hendy has had to be hospitalised twice in the past 10 months and has not been well enough to attend school since October.

When she returned to school in August was so tired she would sleep at her desk - and then became so anxious she was too frightened to go inside.

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Anna, along with her mum Helen Goss and her mum’s partner, all caught coronavirus last April.

At the end of April, Anna, from Westhill, Aberdeenshire, became 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).

Anna now experiences recurrent symptoms including headaches, muscle aches, nausea and getting flushed cheeks, as well as a rash reappearing and feeling heavy and slow.

Watch: What is long COVID?

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Goss 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 Goss said the school and local authority had done everything they could to support her, including getting an educational psychologist involved.

Anna hasn't been well enough to attend school since October (SWNS)
Anna hasn't been well enough to attend school since October (SWNS)

Goss 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."

The school doctor prescribed melatonin which has helped improve Anna's sleep, and also identified an iron deficiency, and blood tests at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary revealed a thyroid issue.

The family hope the symptoms will wear off, although they have said support from the school doctor has been the best care they have received from medics.

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Goss said: "She's getting much more sleep but she's still getting flare ups. She hasn't been to school since early October. We did a staged plan, but she was so scared, her anxiety has been sky high. I can't send her back in there until I'm sure school is a safe place.

"They can only work with what they've got, they don't have the space to space everything out or money for new ventilation systems. It is not easy for schools.

"She's just in a muddle - it's not only the physical effects but the mental health impact. If there is a chance of reinfection I can't risk her health - this time six months ago I really wanted her in school but this new variant has changed my attitude."

Since November, Anna has been enrolled in e-Sgoil, digital learning to support children in the Western Isles - and she has won an award for her efforts, but still misses days at a time due to her symptoms.

"There is still so little acknowledgment that it exists in kids, it is frustrating - it feels like being dismissed,” Goss continued. “It just undermines how sick she has been.”

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