Coronavirus: Q&A (Updated)

Coronavirus: Q&A (Updated)

Ireland has local transmission of coronavirus. We are in the delay phase and are still looking for cases.

These are the people who are being tested at the moment:

  • people at higher risk because of travel or close contact with a case
  • people with severe illness in hospital

Medical professionals will soon be testing a sample of people with symptoms in the community. GPs and hospital doctors test patients that they feel require it.

They are monitoring the global situation closely, actively seeking people who may have COVID-19 so that we can:

  • put public health measures in place to prevent spread
  • advise people on how to protect themselves
  • prepare the health services for the care of cases


Covid-19 Information

Nobody is immune to Covid-19. Please take heed of the following advice issued by the World Health Organisation and HSE. 


What is it? 

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. 


What are the symptoms? 

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of coronavirus to appear.

The main symptoms to look out for are:

Other symptoms are fatigue, headaches, sore throat, aches and pains.

The National Public Health Emergency Team has advised anyone who has symptoms to self-isolate for 14 days.

If you have any of the most common symptoms and have been to a place where there is spread of coronavirus, read this advice.


How does coronavirus spread? 

Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets.

You could get the virus if you:

  • come into close contact with someone who has the virus and is coughing or sneezing
  • touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on

As it’s a new illness, we do not know how easily the virus spreads from person to person. Spread is most likely from those who have symptoms.

The virus may only survive a few hours if someone who has it coughs or sneezes on a surface. Simple household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces. Clean the surface first and then use a disinfectant.

Follow this advice to protect yourself and others from coronavirus.


When should I consult a doctor? 

For most people who have these symptoms now, it is more likely to be an infection that is not coronavirus.

You only need to phone a doctor if you have symptoms and any of the following apply to you:

  • they are the type of symptoms you would usually contact a GP about
  • you have travelled from an affected area
  • you are a close contact of a confirmed case in Ireland – if you are, the Department of Public Health will contact you


Are antibiotics effective in prevent and treating Covid-19? 

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections and should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. 

There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. But many of the symptoms of the virus can be treated.

Supportive treatments, like oxygen therapy, can be given while your own body fights the virus. Life support can be used in extreme cases.

If you get the virus, your healthcare professional will advise treatment based on your symptoms.


How do you define close contact? 

This is only a guide but close contact can mean:

  • spending more than 15 minutes face-to-face contact within 2 metres of an infected person
  • living in the same house or shared accommodation as an infected person

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should:

  • isolate themselves from other people – this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone
  • phone their GP, or emergency department
  • in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999


When might I need to be tested for coronavirus? 

You will need to be tested for coronavirus if you have symptoms and have in the last 14 days been:

Your doctor may also suggest you are tested for coronavirus if you have a severe lung infection.

If your doctor thinks that you need a test for coronavirus, they will tell you where the test will be done. They will also tell you when to expect your results.

Read this advice if you’ve been to a place with spread of coronavirus.


Is there anything I can do to help the situation? 

As the number of coronavirus cases has increased, social distancing (of 2 metres) is now more important.

To help slow the spread of coronavirus:

  • anyone who has symptoms should self-isolate for 14 days
  • everyone should limit unnecessary social contact as much as possible
  • at-risk groups should avoid close contact with people outside the home


What can I do to protect myself? 

Wash your hands frequently!

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based rub as it will eliminate the virus on your hands. 

Practice respiratory hygiene! 

When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue. Following use, immediately discard the tissue into a closed bin and wash your hands as above. Such actions will help prevent the spread of germs and viruses. By coughing or sneezing into your hands you may contaminate objects or people that you come into contact with. 

Maintain Social Distancing! 

Maintain at least 1 metre between yourself and other people, especially those who are coughing, sneezing or have a fever. The virus is spread through the projection of contaminated droplets. If too close, you may be susceptible to breathing them in. 

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth! 

Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself. 

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical assistance! 

Whenever you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing it’s important to seek medical attention promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Respiratory symptoms with fever can have a range of causes and depending on your circumstances (travel, community transmission) 2019-nCoV could be one of them.

If you have mild respiratory symptoms or have not travelled to an affected area? 

Ensure to practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene and stay at home until you are recovered, if possible. 

Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products! 

Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid cross contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practice. 

Any additional steps that I can take? 

Wearing a mask can help to limit the spread of some respiratory disease. However, using a mask alone is not guaranteed to stop infections and should be combined with advice outlined above. 

If using a mask, please be mindful of rational use to avoid any unnecessary wastage of precious resources and potential misuse of masks. 

Additional tips! 

Clean, clean, clean! The virus can attach to surfaces. Make sure to clean and disinfect! 

Pay attention to where you put your phone down! 

Limit handshakes, hugs and high-fives! 

Carry extra napkins and/or wet-wipes!

Try not to handle cash money. Tap and go! 


Risk of catching coronavirus in Ireland

There are confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ireland.

The risk of catching coronavirus in Ireland is still low to moderate. This may change. However, most people may continue to go to work, school and other public places, as usual.

Follow the advice on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus.

If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, a public health doctor will tell you this.


Are you at-risk? 

We do not know for sure which groups are most at risk of complications if they catch coronavirus. 

It is likely you are more at risk if you catch coronavirus and you:

  • are 60 years of age and over
  • have a long-term medical condition – for example, heart disease, lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer
  • are pregnant


Travel Implications

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) advice is to avoid all non-essential travel to ChinaIran and Spain (including the Balearic and Canary Islands).

The DFA is now also advising people to:

  • think carefully before deciding to travel to any other country in the European Union
  • not travel to Italy at all

If you do visit one of these places, you will need to self-quarantine when you return to Ireland.

Get up-to-date travel information from the Department of Foreign Affairs on countries and regions affected by coronavirus.


For More Information

COVID-19 updates – how the health service is responding to the global spread of coronavirus

Department of Foreign Affairs – updated travel information and advice



Wash your hands properly and often.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.

Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Avoid close contact with people – keep a distance of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and others.

Avoid crowded places, especially indoors.

Follow the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Stay at home if you are sick to help stop the spread of whatever infection you may have.


Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Do not share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups.

Do not shake hands.

Wash your hands properly and often

You should wash your hands:

  • after coughing or sneezing
  • before and after eating
  • before and after preparing food
  • if you were in contact with someone who has a fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
  • before and after being on public transport or in a crowd (especially an indoor crowd)
  • when you arrive and leave buildings including your home or anyone else’s home
  • if you have handled animals or animal waste
  • before having a cigarette or vaping
  • if your hands are dirty
  • after toilet use

Keep your hands in good condition, moisturise them often. Any basic product that is not perfumed or coloured is OK. 

Do not wear gloves instead of washing your hands. The virus gets on them in the same way it gets on your hands. Also, your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.

Read a step-by-step guide on how to properly wash your hands and avoid infection.

Face masks

Using masks is unlikely to be of any benefit if you are not sick.

Sick people will be advised by their doctor when to use a mask. Healthcare workers need masks and other personal protective equipment to protect them from infection during their work.

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