Covid rehabilitation

This page is aimed at informing you about the virus COVID-19, the disease it causes, its affects and how you can manage the symptoms and take control of your recovery.

What is COVID?

COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and is short for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

COVID-19 is an infection caused by a coronavirus.

Throughout this page and the attached information we will use the term COVID, when referring to SARS-CoV-2.

COVID disease is an infection caused by a coronavirus.

Whatever problems you are experiencing are need attention if they are causing you concern or limiting you. Every individual experience is unique.

Most people find that it takes time to recover physically and mentally from COVID disease.

There are many symptoms caused by the acute illness. Common symptoms include cough, fevers, muscle aches, and lethargy (tiredness / fatigue). Some people experience breathlessness. We know that symptoms of loss of taste and loss of smell are  also common.

Physically, you may notice differences such as muscle weakness, breathlessness or difficulty swallowing. Mentally you may feel sad, worried, have memory problems or frightening nightmares.

It is important to be patient with yourself and not expect to get completely back to normal straight away. Most people’s recovery from COVID disease takes several weeks or months. It is normal for recovery to be gradual, so you may need to pace yourself as you try to return to your daily activities.

What is the normal recovery pattern following COVID disease?

Some people who have been infected by COVID have no or minimal symptoms. Many will have short lasting symptoms (often fever, cough, and change in smell amongst others) from which they recover after a few days or up to two weeks.

Quite a few people will have a severe infection, but not stay in hospital. Some will have an infection which is made worse by health problems they were aware of already, or that occurred when recovering from the infection.

Most people will make a full recovery. This may take weeks to a few months.

Everybody will get better at different rates.

For those people who have had the COVID infection and are severe enough to need hospital care, experience with other similar bacterial and viral infections leads us to expect the following approximate timescales for recovery:

  • After 4 weeks most of the chest pains, and phlegm (sputum) should have reduced.
  • After 6 weeks the cough and feeling of breathlessness should have greatly reduced.
  • After 3 months most symptoms should have settled, but tiredness may still be present.
  • After 6 months symptoms should have all settled.

Those that were admitted into intensive care will often find that recovery takes longer than this, possibly up to a year.

What can you do to assist your recovery?

Links found below will direct you to the Univeristy Hospitals Plymouth COVID rehabilitation booklet. This has extensive information which will guide you through your COVID recovery.  

Front cover of the guide to Rehabilitation following COVID-19   Covid Rehab booklet March 2021.pdf [pdf] 2MB






In addition, we also have information videos that you can access via the following links on this website:

Find out more information on nutrition and a healthy diet.

Find out more information on Post-viral Fatigue/ pacing activities after illness, memory and/or concentration.

Find out more information on swallowing and speech issues.

We have produced a set of tiered exercise videos. Whatever your physical level of activity we have a video to suit. Find out how to progress your physical exercise, strength and endurance.

Do I need a clinical follow-up?

Some people will need further medical follow-ups after COVID. We have some national guidance to direct your follow-up care. People who have been in hospital with COVID will most likely be followed up by the hospital, this may be over the phone or you might be invited back into hospital for review. You may be invited back for a chest x-ray or a follow-up for any specific problems you might have had.

Follow-up arrangements should be clear on the discharge summary letter given to you or sent to your GP when you are sent home from hospital.

If you had a stay on the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) you may be followed up by the ICU team, this follow-up may be delivered alongside other teams.

You may not have heard about your follow-up yet as services are rapidly being put in place.

Where can I find further information and support?

Much of the information referred to in this web page can be found in greater detail on the NHS Your Covid Recovery website. This includes many additional videos that may help your understanding and assist in your recovery.

Local services and information

Caring for Plymouth: Support for the medically vulnerable. Specially trained staff will be ready and waiting to take calls on 01752 668000 between 8am and 6pm 

Age UK Plymouth - Shop N Drop service, prescription collection service and weekly telephone call with a phone friend to keep you in regular contact with someone. Email:

Food Boxes Available: Age UK Plymouth with be taking orders for food boxes which will be available for delivery. Prices start from £10 per box. To place an order please call 01752 253980.

Other Plymouth support services:

Adult Social Services: 01752 668000

Improving Lives Plymouth: 01752 201890

Community Action Helpline: 07786683074

Extra Help: 01752 424515

Plymouth Labour Force: 07786683074

Devon: Visit the Devon Council website for Coronavirus advice. 

East Devon: District Council's Coronavirus Community Support Hub available to help local residents, communities and organisations access information and support. Tel: 01395 571500, Monday to Friday 09.00-17.00.

Supporting Cornwall. Visit this online platform to find communities in Cornwall that are connecting and supporting each other through the Coronavirus.

Volunteer Cornwall: can help with food shopping, collecting prescriptions, telephone befriending. Tel: 08872 266988

South Hams: Visit the South Hams council website to find different voluntary support services  available in each parish.

Tel: 01803 861234 (note limited office hours)

Coronavirus community assistance directory: find out more about help in your community    

Age UK Tel: 08006781602, lines open 08.00-19.00 every day.

National information about Coronavirus support

Read national advice about COVID.

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