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Long Covid is a debilitating illness - not an opportunity to grab your readers' attention, BBC

This morning, the BBC published an article using Long Covid as a metaphor for a downturn in the tourist industry due to the pandemic:



The article was promoted online by the BBC, and other outlets published a similar story. It attracted widespread criticism from advocates and charities, people with Long Covid and many others who felt strongly that using a debilitating illness as a metaphor for business was inappropriate, insensitive, discriminatory and offensive.


This tweet from Long Covid Kids spearheaded an online debate which led to a welcome apology from Bernard Donoghue, CEO of Alva UK, the industry body which he leads.


Alva UK have now issued a formal statement apologising for the language used, for which we thank them:

"We apologise for the insensitive and inappropriate use of a medical term to describe an economic impact. We have amended our statement and messaging and asked the media companies who ran the story to do the same. We have replied to, and engaged with everyone who has contacted us this morning."

Subsequently, the BBC amended their headline and included a reference to the apology in the article.


Along with Long Covid Kids and other partners in the UK Covid Inquiry we have submitted a formal letter of complaint to Alva UK through our lawyers Bhatt Murphy:




Our position statement:

"It is inappropriate, discriminatory and harmful to state that an industry is suffering long Covid. It is inconceivable that another illness or disabling condition would be referred to in this way. There is no ‘equivalent’ to human suffering. The sentence suggests that long Covid is a pandemic consequence rather than a consequence of disease arising from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Throughout the pandemic long Covid sufferers have fought for recognition and treatment; this type of re-iteration is offensive and harmful." Jane Ryan, Bhatt Murphy Solicitors

Our legal team has also complained to the BBC adding:

"The BBC Editorial codes states that it must offer appropriate protection to vulnerable groups and avoid causing unjustifiable offence. It is offensive to refer to an industry suffering from long Covid in the headline on a news article that has been published in multiple places and reported globally. The code further requires accuracy and to imply that an industry can suffer from disabling medical condition is inaccurate. It is also discriminatory as many people with long Covid meet the definition of disability under section 6 of the Equality Act."
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