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Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

Published: 5 February 2020
From: Department of Health

What is happening?

Ireland has comprehensive Public Health and Emergency Plans in place for responding to public health issues, including those related to new infectious agents such as Covid-19 (Coronavirus). These are up to date and rehearsed. These Frameworks have been used in the past to manage emergencies such as the Swine Flu pandemic, SARS and Ebola.

The National Public Health Emergency Team met on Tuesday, 11th February, in the Department of Health, to review the available international data and guidance regarding the outbreak of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in Hubei Province, China, and to review Ireland’s ongoing preparedness in line with the advice from the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The National Public Health Emergency Team will meet again on Tuesday, 18 February.

HSE Public Health and HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre have been monitoring the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) situation since it was notified by the WHO.

The HSE High Consequences Infectious Diseases Planning and Coordination Group (HCID) has been working at a detailed level on this situation since early January and has put in place detailed plans and issued guidance and information in preparedness across the health service. This group has been meeting three time every week and will adjust this schedule as appropriate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) is a new respiratory illness that has not previously been seen in humans. Humans can get infected from coronaviruses which come from animals.

This type of coronavirus is also known as novel coronavirus, Coronavirus 2019-vCoV, Wuhan novel coronavirus or Wuhan coronavirus.

Symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

Common symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) may include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fever
  • A high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or higher)

Symptoms of a more severe infection may include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome
  • Kidney failure

How is Covid-19 (Coronavirus) transmitted

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) is spread by coming into close contact with someone who has the virus. It can be spread by coughing or sneezing. You could also get it if you touch surfaces that have droplets of the virus on them. Right now, we do not know how far the virus has been passed on between humans.

Protecting yourself from Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

  • frequently clean your hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • when coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and a cough
  • if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, phone your GP (do not visit the GP surgery) and tell your GP if you have been in China in the last 14 days
  • the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices

What is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern?

On Thursday, 30 January 2020, the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee of the World Health Organisation declared that the Coronavirus outbreak now meets the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

This designation implies a situation that is:

  • serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected
  • carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border
  • may require immediate international action

This declaration was anticipated here in Ireland, based on the ongoing assessment of the National Public Health Emergency Team. The declaration emphasises the importance of the preparedness and plans that are already in place in Ireland.

Ireland is well positioned to detect and respond to a case of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) that might arise here.

Where can I get further advice?

Latest News

Statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team - Tuesday 11 February

Terms of Reference

National Public Health Emergency Team on Covid-19 (coronavirus) Terms Of Reference


Minutes of Meetings

NPHET Covid-19 Meting 4th February 2020 Minutes


NPHET Covid-19 Meting 30th January 2020 Minutes


NPHET Covid-19 Meting 27th January 2020 Minutes


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