When Jessica Walsh started sneezing during her first week of university she didn't think she had Covid.

And she never dreamed her seemingly mild symptoms would end in her having to suspend her Fine Art degree for an entire year.

But within 24 hours Jessica, from Hale, had come down with a high temperature and extreme fatigue. Soon, she was spending up to 19 hours a day in bed.

Jessica, 20, whose symptoms began in mid-September, told the Manchester Evening News: "From then on I had really bad aches and pains in my shoulders, at the back of my neck and upper back.

"I'd get hot and cold flushes and I slightly lost my sense of tase and smell. "

Jessica's blood pressure was low and she lost her appeite, leading to fainting spells 'at least once a day'.

"I'd faint just getting myself from the bedroom to the bathroom. I really struggled to take showers, it was too much energy," she said.

Up to the summer before starting university, Jessica had been shielding while her mum underwent treatment for breast cancer.

Jessica Walsh, 20, is receiving long Covid treatment

She had moved out to live with her boyfriend in July to go back to work as a bartender, in full PPE.

But Jessica, who has no underlying health conditions, suspects she might have picked up the virus using public transport go get to university when she began her course in September.

She added: "Even before the formal lockdown, because my mum was going through cancer treatment, we decided not to leave the house.

"To then leave it and in the space of two months catch Covid was unexpected.

"I had to inform my study group I had it and they all isolated for a week. Luckily, none of them had it."

After a month, Jessica started to feel better but was left with mild fatigue and aches and pains.

She also struggled with brain fog.

"I struggled to maintain long conversations," she said.

"I'd zone out and I couldn't think of words. It was really irritating."

Jessica, who has also suffered hair loss, says that the virus has affected her menstrual cycle, leading to irregular periods.

Having missed the whole of her first term to her symptoms, Jessica ended up making the hard decision to suspend her course at Manchester Metropolitan University for a year.

She added: "It's highly practical work and I'd caught Covid in the first week. I really struggled afterwards.

"I had missed so much, plus all my assessments. It was unrealistic to continue."

Eight months in, Jessica is receiving support from her GP, who has given her a formal diagnosis of long Covid, meaning she is in the new treatment programme, which was launched in Greater Manchester in March.

Jessica, who is living at home with her mum, added: "The concept of long Covid wasn't really around last year so it wasn't until the end of December that I was formally diagnosed. When I first went I was told you can suffer symptoms for up to six weeks after you've had the virus so I was anticipating that.

Having been to her GP at Altrincham Medical Practice in October, she's since been set for a blood test and chest X-Ray and she is due for an ECG and more blood tests to check for vitamin D deficiency.

Being treated on the new long Covid pathway, she has received guidance on coping mechanisms for fatigue and is taking Vitamin D tablets.

But with her symptoms still impacting her life, Jessica has now been referred to a respiratory clinic for long Covid patients as she is struggling with a tight chest and breathlessness.

Jessica has been impressed with the treatment she's receiving, adding: "It's been really fast, everyone has been really cooperative and I'm just hoping the results give clarity."