What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a newly identified strain of virus in the Coronavirus family, first discovered in 2019 in the Chinese province of Wuhan. The Coronavirus family also includes the common cold, Influenza, SARS and other viruses.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease, but it is not spread as easily as measles.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19

In the unlikely event that you contract COVID-19, you will probably feel very unwell, with symptoms that include fever, coughing, respiratory difficulties, loss of appetite, aches and pains and dehydration.

How is COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person, through body fluids. It is mostly spread via coughing. Those who are first responders and health care workers, as well as family members of those infected, are most likely to contract COVID-19.

Current evidence suggests that infected people are not contagious during the incubation period of COVID-19, and only become infectious when they begin to show symptoms.

Is COVID-19 fatal?

COVID-19 is potentially fatal, and current mortality rates are between 2 and 3%. Most of the fatalities have been among the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, and the protective measures advised are important in order to protect these vulnerable groups. Children appear to be less affected than adults by COVID-19.

What should I do if I suspect I have COVID-19?

If you believe that you may have COVID-19, you should telephone your doctor and discuss your symptoms to see if any further intervention is required.

What if someone close to me has COVID-19?

If you know that someone has COVID-19, you should stay more than 2 meters away from them, and avoid spending more than 15 minutes with them. If you must be in closer proximity than 2 meters and for longer than 15 minutes, you should wear the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Face masks may be effective for people infected with COVID-19, reducing the likelihood of them spreading the virus through coughing. They may also be useful for family members, first responders and medical staff who have to be in close proximity to those who are infected.

What if I am infected with COVID-19?

People who are infected with COVID-19 will most likely be treated from home through the HSE’s community healthcare system and only those who are extremely ill will be hospitalised in order to avoid exposure and reduce the risk to the most vulnerable groups.

What can I do?

In order to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and to protect vulnerable groups, it is important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. You should wash hands for at least 30 seconds several times a day, especially after using the bathroom, before and after eating and after touching animals. Hand gels and sanitisers are less effective, but may be useful if you cannot access soap and water.

In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, it is important to avoid travel to known infected areas.