A Greater Manchester Police officer from Trafford who has long Covid is encouraging people to take part in research about the condition.

Stephen Marsh-Blades found himself struggling to walk up the stairs and lost his sense of smell and taste after catching Covid, something which he finds difficult, as he’s a keen amateur cook.

He suspects he had two cases of Covid-19 in 2020 – a possible infection in March and a confirmed case in October.

He was left with breathing difficulties and tiredness.

Many people infected by Covid-19 feel the effects for about two weeks, but others experience lingering health problems – known as long Covid. Others still have symptoms such as breathlessness, fatigue and brain fog many weeks or months later.

Stephen said: “I couldn’t go for a jog. Even walking up the stairs left me breathless.”

He went to the GP and had a series of tests, as they investigated what might be wrong.

He continued: “I started to feel better after about five months and was exercising better and sleeping better.

“But I’m still not where I was before Covid. I still have sudden episodes of tiredness and need to rest.

“My sense of smell is still not right, which is the worst side of it. I like my cooking and many smells have changed. The taste of curries has changed and fried onions smell like burning. I can smell rosemary, but not thyme or mint.”

Stephen, who works for Greater Manchester Police, has a friend involved with the Salford research centre and was happy to get involved when approached.

He said: “It is important people put themselves forward. We are now two years down the line and we don’t really understand all the symptoms of long Covid. I’d encourage people who are suffering from long Covid to volunteer for the research.

"It's been simple and straightforward to take part in the research. I've answered some questionnaires, which didn't take much of my time."

People can volunteer for the Help BEAT Coronavirus campaign by registering with an organisation called Research for the Future, which works across Greater Manchester and the North West as part of the National Institute for Health and Care Research Network.

Around 3,000 people have already volunteered to take part in the research at the Salford Royal Hospital, which is part of Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust.

Anyone aged over 18 in the North who currently has long Covid symptoms can take part.

Thousands of people in the North West continue to struggle with the effects of long Covid and clinicians need additional people to volunteer to help them find out more about this often-debilitating condition.

Professor Nawar Bakerly, respiratory clinical lead at the Greater Manchester and Eastern Cheshire Strategic Clinical Networks, as well as respiratory consultant at the Salford Royal Hospital, is leading long Covid research in the region as part of the campaign.

He said: “We urgently need more people who suffer from long Covid to register for our campaign and help us find out more about the condition, so we can help the thousands of people still suffering from its effects.

“For some people, long Covid is a temporary experience. For others, it is badly affecting their health and wellbeing, with some people being too sick to work or exercise.”

Those interested can register now online at http://www.researchforthefuture.org/register or text RESEARCH and YOUR NAME to 81400.