AT the start of December 2020 former professional boxer Allan Ley was fit and healthy but by the new year was fighting for his life in a hospital bed.

He was one of 28 drivers who fell ill when a coronavirus outbreak hit his employer Newport Bus. Three, including Mr Ley who hasn't been able to return to work since catching Covid-19 on December 20, 2020, were later taken to hospital.

Almost a year on Mr Ley has spoken about how his life has been turned upside down as he continues to battle with 'long covid'.

The National Wales: Mr Ley was one of three Newport Bus drivers to be taken in to hospital. (Picture: Allan Ley)Mr Ley was one of three Newport Bus drivers to be taken in to hospital. (Picture: Allan Ley)

After spending the entire Christmas period bedbound with the virus, Mr Ley was admitted to hospital on his 52nd birthday, December 29, 2020. His wife was told by medical staff to prepare for the worst on two occasions as her husband’s condition continued to worsen.

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Thankfully, Mr Ley returned home on January 6 - but his health has been a continuous battle ever since.

“I’ve got a constant back ache, I’m tired and depressed,” Mr Ley, who lives in the Bettws area of Newport told our sister title The South Wales Argus.

“I can’t do things I used to be able to do – I’m unable to move my arms like I used to, and my shoulder is difficult to move.

“To be the way I am now really gets me down and I feel that people just don’t understand. They have this idea that once you get covid, you recover but that’s really not the case at all.”

The National Wales: Allan Ley hasn't returned to work since catching covid last December. (Picture: Allan Ley)Allan Ley hasn't returned to work since catching covid last December. (Picture: Allan Ley)

Mr Ley, a former professional boxer and a keen runner at the time he contracted Covid-19, says he now struggles every day with its after-effects, and that there’s not enough support given to sufferers of what has become known as 'long Covid'.

“My memory is completely shot to bits," he said. "It’s also made me suffer with anxiety and two weeks ago I had a panic attack and was hospitalised.

“I’m now on medication for my anxiety because it is such a problem for me.”

Mr Ley has also tried applying for the UK Government’s Personal Independence Payment scheme – which supports those suffering from long-term physical and mental health issues – but says he has been refused twice.

READ MORE: DWP 'failing' terminally-ill people with delays to vital benefits support

He continues to receive payment from Newport Bus, that is organising regular check ups with him.

“Fair play, Newport Bus have been really good,” he said.

“They’ve organised these wellness check ins for me – I have one next week now. They’re not putting any pressure on me to come back to work – they’re being really supportive which is a big help.”

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But Mr Ley is unsure when he’ll be able to get back behind the wheel as he’s still undergoing physiotherapy treatment to help improve his mobility.

“I have no idea when I’ll be back in work," he said. "The problem is my movement in my arms is nowhere near what it was before covid – and that’s a pretty important part of driving a bus.

“I’m still taking painkillers constantly and have a lot still to do with my physio treatment. I also need an MRI scan.

“I just want to help raise awareness of the difficulties of having long covid. It’s something that’s fundamentally changed my life and I expect there are others out there going through the exact same things that I am.”

If you are concerned that you might be suffering from long covid, a list of symptoms from the NHS are available here.

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