More than a year later, Sheeba, a long haul Covid survivor, still faces bouts of breathlessness, fatigue and anxiety, things she rarely experienced prior to her Covid-19 diagnosis. And she’s not alone.
Most Covid-19 patients recover and return to normal health two to six weeks after initial diagnosis, according to the World Health Organization. But the global medical community is finding that lingering symptoms are quite common, and some conditions can last weeks or even months after a negative Covid-19 test. Symptoms can include fatigue and anxiety, similar to what Sheeba is experiencing, as well as shortness of breath, muscle pain, headaches, rashes and persistent coughs.
Frustrated that she wasn’t getting better, Sheeba turned to the internet for answers and stumbled upon ENO Breathe. Launched in June, ENO Breathe began as a pilot program in partnership with the English National Opera (ENO) and the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, part of one of the largest healthcare networks in the United Kingdom. Working together, a team of doctors, therapists and vocal coaches developed a breathing and well-being program for people like Sheeba who were recovering from Covid-19 but still suffering from breathlessness and anxiety. Their idea was simple: Take the same vocal techniques and breathing exercises used by opera singers and apply them to Covid-19 patients in a group setting. The program is structured into hour-long sessions that take place via Zoom once a week over the course of six weeks. (It’s also entirely free.)