In June the Manchester Evening News spoke to five patients who had suffered from 'mild Covid'.

Months after their initial illness, they continued to report a range of ailments including brain fog, anxiety, breathlessness, muscle pain and fatigue.

Other symptoms included headaches, intermittent fever and 'pounding heart'. A lack of understanding from GPs and employers was a common thread in their stories.

According to scientists at least one in 20 people infected with coronavirus, including those admitted to hospital with the initial infection, experience symptoms that last for two months or longer.

In September, a study found up to 60,000 people in the UK were suffering from what is now known as 'long Covid'.

According to the British Medical Association, a third of doctors have treated patients with long term Covid symptoms.

Professor Tim Spector, Covid Symptom Study lead and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology from King’s College London has said older people, women and those with a greater number of different symptoms in the first week of their illness were more likely to develop long Covid.

His team have used data from 4,182 patients using a symptom app to develop a model that can predict who is most at risk of long Covid, based on their age, gender, and count of early symptoms.

Awareness of the condition among the medical community, GPs and employers, has improved.

It's now recognised that the disease can also cause long-term damage to organs including the lungs, heart, kidneys, brain and blood vessels. It's even been described as 'modern-day polio'.

In response, more than 60 long Covid NHS clinics will be set up across the country, including in Greater Manchester.

Many of the patients we first met six months ago say they are still suffering, all are waiting referral to a clinic, and some have not returned to work.

Here are their stories:

Former Labour MP Jo is still wracked by symptoms almost a year after contracting Covid

"To think you'd still be having some sort of reaction and symptoms associated with Covid nearly a year later is beyond what you'd ever perceive"

Jo Platt, 46, former Labour MP for Leigh, lives in the town with her children Oliver, 17, Kian, 15, and Lily, 15. Jo came down with Covid at the start of the first lockdown and believes her two younger teenagers also contracted the virus but have now recovered. When we spoke in June she'd had symptoms for 79 days.

Jo returned to work at a charity in September and had a period of wellness but has since had a relapse, feeling herself 'slipping back' into the long-term symptoms of Covid over Christmas.

"The news is talking about deaths, and rightly so, it's horrific.

"But there is very little talked about in regards to those who get Covid in a way perceived as mild and have these lingering long-term symptoms.

"With the current infection rate there are an awful lot of people - 5,000 a day - who will end up with long Covid, that's one in 10 (the Office of National Statistics estimates this is the figure, although some scientists make more conservative estimates).

"That's an awful lot of people who are going to have ongoing health conditions for an awful long time.

"I had a relapse at Christmas. I think it was the stress of it. A close relative tested positive.

"I did my best but it was a case of my brain was willing and my body was weak.

"I've been at work at Leigh Spinners Mill (a charity) and it's been a balancing act and I think combined with the stress of the run up to Christmas I felt myself slipping back.

Jo Platt

"I had headaches, migraines, brain fog, muscle aches, the fatigue kicked in again and I had shortness of breath.

"These things reappeared that I hadn't had since September, when I'd had a relapse after a month of working.

"I was bedridden for a weekend.

"And again the past few weeks have been a battle. To think you'd still be having some sort of reaction and symptoms associated with Covid nearly a year later is beyond what you'd ever perceive an illness to be, especially something that's not supposed to have an effect on younger people.

"My GP is absolutely wonderful, she is learning with me because a lot of this information is not being trickled down fast enough. Sometimes I find out things before she does.

"She has referred me to a Covid clinic but I've not heard back from them. I don't think information is being trickled down to primary care fast enough."

Carol Beattie

"My brain is better, my husband said he could only start talking to me again in November because I'd been brain dead"

When we spoke to Carol Beattie, 50, in June, she had suffered with symptoms for eight weeks.

Carol, a secondary teacher who lives with her daughter, 10, and her husband, 45, a policeman, reported muscle weakness, headaches, joint pain, body weakness, concentration problems, insomnia, back and kidney pain, stomach pain and fever - and she'd been hospitalised with heart palpitations.

She said at the time that a lack of understanding from employers and GPs was exacerbating the problem for patients like her.

She has now been off work for 10 months.

This week, she told the Manchester Evening News : "I've since spent £3,000 on private medical doctors, supplements and private treatment.

"I think I've struck lucky with the treatments I'm on. It's difficult because it's alternative health and people don't always trust it but I can only report what's happened to me, and theres' been a real difference.

"I've been told by doctors the virus is still in me, and it's causing me kidney pain. I still have pain and tightness in my chest and I'm deconditioned.

"But my brain is better, my husband said he could only start talking to me again in November because I'd been brain dead.

'I've been told by doctors the virus is still in me': Carol Beattie

"Since June I've been to A&E three times, one day my heart rate went down to 30 beats a minute.

"I've had some really low times but I'm so grateful at the moment that I seem to be on the mend.

"I've been off work for 10 months and I'm quite anxious about going back.

"After going for private treatment I've had a stack of nutrients to try and overcome my drop in energy and I've tried electro-acupuncture, among other things, to stabilise my anatomic nervous system.

"It's taken this long - and I've had little help from the NHS.

"I gave up waiting for the long Covid clinics. My dad helped pay for some treatments because I'm not earning any money.

"I did try to return to work in July, first on two hours a day. But I ended up doing more and more and then just crashed and ended up back in hospital with heart palpitations.

"I got reinfected in September, I think from my daughter being at school. I had pneumonia and was really weak again.

"But I have started to feel better now and I hope that continues."

Gail Broli with her youngest son Ben

"When's it going to end? Am I going to feel better or am I going to find out it's done some damage?"

Gail Broli, a 39-year-old teaching assistant from Hindley Green in Wigan, lives with her husband Silvanio, 54, who works for the AA, and their children Adam, 15, and Ben, six.

Before she became ill she would go to the gym five times a week. When we spoke in June, Gail was struggling with anything more than a walk. She's been to hospital five times with a range of symptoms including heart palpitations. Her symptoms had lasted 91 days.

"It's been 11 months now.

"It's a long drawn-out process, it takes time.

"I'm on five different medications for chronic fatigue, insomnia, and breathing. If I wasn't on medication I don't know what state I would be in.

"I've had numerous tests which have all come back negative but I still have ongoing symptoms so I've been referred to a chronic fatigue clinic and am waiting to be referred to a Covid clinic.

"I'm still having issues with my lungs, I still have fatigue, still have odd neurological symptoms.

"I have improved slightly, but by no means am I back to normal.

"Some old symptoms have resolved - I don't get palpitations as much and when I do they are slight and manageable.

"The fatigue has lifted slightly but I'm on medication for people who suffer from chronic fatigue. It helps with sleep and regulates energy levels.

"I'm actually sleeping now thanks to medication and I've been on a range of inhalers that helped at first but aren't doing now.

Gail thinks her husband Silvanio and two sons Adam, 15, and Ben, five, also contracted COVID-19

"I have hives that come and go and I'm on antihistamines.

"I suffer from burning lungs, especially in cold weather. I get migraines, pins and needles and leg cramps.

"I have to have a blood test every month for my liver which has become 'borderline'.

"I see a consultant who said they don't really know what to do with long Covid patients, they are seeing lots of people coming through but they don't have the answers yet.

"His respiratory nurse did a lung function test and thinks I have a breathing disorder caused by Covid so I'm trying breathing exercises.

Gail with her gym pals in her pre-COVID days

"I am on a waiting list for a long Covid clinic.

"Neurologically I have a slight stutter, blindness in an eye that comes and goes and I get lights in front of my eyes, as well as lots of joint aches.

"It's like when some symptoms calm down others crop up."

"Of our 3,7000 Facebook group members, only two have been referred to a long Covid clinic"

Louise Barnes runs a Facebook group for long Covid patients

The Manchester Evening News first spoke Louise Barnes, 46, from Wigan, in the summer.

She contracted the virus in March last year and is still struggling with symptoms.

Louise had launched a Facebook Group called 'Post covid Syndrome Support Group' which has 3,700 members.  Of the group, just two have been referred to a long Covid clinic.

Between them, they had identified 172 symptoms suffered by long Covid patients.

Since that first interview, Louise has had two 'mini strokes', leading to two admissions to hospital.

As a result, she partially lost use of her facial muscles and her speech was impacted.

Other ongoing symptoms are lung problems, chest tightness, breathlessness, mobility problems and joint pain, as well as headaches. She also describes brain fog.

Despite her struggles, she believes a regimen of vitamins is aiding improvement.

"Most of us are having these constant relapses and our health is just deteriorating.

"But I've not had to have a daytime nap for the last two months which is just a miracle.

"If you overdo it one day you are back in bed for two days. It requires careful management."

Louise is also now involved with a project by Coverscan, a mapping organs project run by a private medical research company.

Ordinarily the firm scans patients' livers, but they have turned their attentions to long Covid patients.

Among them is Louise.

She said: "So far about 70 per cent of patients are showing at least one organ damaged.

"For me it showed damage in my heart. I've been told I've also got severe liver inflammation."

Louise also has an appointment for a lung scan this week.

She added: "I'm still having problems with breathlessness, although it has improved a lot.

"Recognition of long Covid has improved among GPs and employers. There are a lot of academic papers on this now.

"But I think the problem is a lot of employers are just firing people. A huge number of people in our group have lost their jobs and become homeless.

"Many of them have children with long Covid. It's scandalous.

"Some GPS haven't been given information about long Covid clinics and some regions of the country don't even have clinics."