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COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Health advice

Published: 5 April 2020
From: Department of Health

Until 12 April, everyone should stay at home wherever possible.

Guidance on cocooning

Cocooning means protecting people over 70 years of age, people who are extremely medically vulnerable and people living in residential care homes or long-term care.

If you're in one of these groups, you must take extra care to reduce interaction with other people. Don't go outside your home and garden.

Learn more about cocooning.

Risks of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

If you do not have symptoms

Everybody in Ireland has been asked to stay at home. You should only go out for a few reasons, such as shopping for food.

But you need to restrict your movements further if you:

You need to restrict your movements for at least 14 days. But if the person you live with has had a test and it's negative, you don't need to wait 14 days. You should still follow the advice for everyone - stay at home as much as possible.

Follow this advice to protect yourself and others.

If you have symptoms

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), you will need to self-isolate and phone your GP. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for COVID-19 (Coronavirus), they will arrange a test.

If you think you have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Visit www.hse.ie if you think you have been:

  • in contact with someone confirmed as having COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
  • to a healthcare facility in another country where COVID-19 (Coronavirus) patients are being treated

You will be put in contact with your local Department of Public Health staff who will give you information and advice.

If you develop symptoms, avoid contact with people by self-isolating and phone your GP or emergency department.

Interpreting Service for Deaf People

Deaf Irish Sign Language users can get information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) using Irish Remote Interpreting Service (IRIS).

IRIS is available from 9am to 7pm, Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on Saturday.

To access the service using Irish Sign Language, book an appointment or email hselive@hse.ie

This service is for Deaf Irish Sign Language users only. Information on other services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people is available.


It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to show. They can be similar to the symptoms of cold and flu.

Common symptoms include:

If you have symptoms, you may be more likely to become dehydrated.

More information on the symptoms and causes of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is available from the HSE.

How COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreads

COVID-19 (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 and bring your unwashed hands to your face (eyes, nose or mouth)

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

The virus may survive for up to 2 days 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.

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

Close contact does not include someone you passed on the street or in a shop. The risk of contact in that instance is very low.

More information on how COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreads is available from the HSE.

Physical distancing: how far is 2 metres

Protect yourself

Everyone needs to stay at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

You should only leave your home to:

  • shop for essential food and household goods
  • attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products
  • care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits
  • exercise briefly by yourself, or with children from your family, and only within 2 kilometers of your home, keeping 2 metres distance from other people
  • travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice physical distancing

Follow this advice to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Read a step-by-step guide from the HSE on how to clean your hands.

Keeping well

Infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19 (Coronavirus) can be worrying. This can affect your mental health.

Advice on minding your mental health is available from the HSE.

Why soap is so effective against COVID-19 (Coronavirus)


If you are in one of the priority groups and your GP thinks that you need to be tested, they will arrange a test for you.

Your appointment will be confirmed by text message. The text will include details on where you should go and when.

More information on testing is available from the HSE.


There is no specific treatment for COVID-19 (Coronavirus). However, many of the symptoms of the virus can be treated.

Take any medication you are already taking as usual, unless you are told not to by a healthcare professional.

Most people who catch COVID-19 (Coronavirus) will experience mild symptoms. They should make a full recovery without needing to go to hospital.

If your symptoms get worse and you feel very unwell, you may need to go to hospital.

More information on treatment is available from the HSE.

Advice for parents and children

The Department of Health has developed health advice for parents and children.

Advice for healthcare workers

Detailed information for healthcare workers is available from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Advice for dental workers

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has published Guidance on Managing Infection Related Risks in Dental Services in the Context of the COVID-19 Emergency.

Emergency dental practice activities are included on the list of essential health care services which are to be provided during this COVID-19 pandemic phase.

This list includes all support staff and those necessary for the continuation of the supply chain who are allowed to travel to their work site such as:

  • dental nurses, other dental auxiliary staff and cleaning staff
  • those involved in the manufacture of medical devices such as dental technicians
  • those involved in the manufacture and delivery of dental equipment and supplies

When travelling to and from work, an employee should at all times bring a work identification or a letter from the employer indicating that they are an essential employee, as well as one other form of identification.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has also published guidance on the use of PPE to support infection prevention and control practice when performing aerosol generating procedures on confirmed or clinically suspected COVID-19 CASES in a pandemic situation.

Information booklet

This guide offers information about Ireland and COVID-19 including how the government is responding, the symptoms of COVID-19 and how you should self-isolate.

COVID-19 Information Booklet (English)


COVID-19 Information Booklet (Irish)


Public health advice posters

The Department of Health has developed public health advice posters that are available for you to download and display on your premises.

Physical distancing graphics

The Department of Health has developed physical distancing graphics to help you measure and maintain distance in your premises.

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