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Coronavirus: How to protect yourself from COVID-19

Find out all you need to know about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and what you can do about it

Written by Hannah Byrne | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news

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With the spread of the recent coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, affecting life here and in different countries around the world, it’s important to know what you can do to help prevent the virus from spreading across Ireland and to protect yourself.

The government have taken many measures to try and limit the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), but we all have to play our part to make sure we, and our loved ones, stay healthy. This means listening the to guidelines around social distancing and making sure to wash our hands.

What is COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness. These viruses can be transmitted between humans and animals. There is more than one type of coronavirus, including the common cold, but COVID-19 is the most recent.

How does it spread?

COVID-19 is spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth that come into the air when a person coughs, sneezes or exhales. It’s possible to breathe in these droplets if you are standing close to the person who has the virus.

The droplets can also land on objects or surfaces. If you touch these surfaces, and then touch your nose, eyes or mouth, you could catch the virus.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

It can take up to two weeks for symptoms of COVID-19 to appear. 

Look out for these symptoms:

  • A cough (any kind of cough)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fever (high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above)

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

What should I do if I have symptoms?

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, you should self isolate for 14 days, and others in your house should restrict their movements

If you develop two symptoms (a fever and one other symptom), the HSE have said to follow these steps:

  • Isolate yourself from other people by going into a different room (preferably one with a window or good ventilation) with a phone
  • Phone your local GP and they will assess you over the phone
  • If you GP thinks you need to be tested, they will arrange a test for you

Be sure to phone your GP or the emergency department instead of going there, to prevent spreading the virus further.

Can I be tested for COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

If you have a fever (high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above) and one other symptom of a respiratory illness (an illness that affects your breathing) such as a cough or shortness of breath, you can be tested for COVID-19.

How do I know if I have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus?

If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, a public health doctor will tell you this. You will need to restrict your movements, stay inside, and avoid contact with other people as much as possible for two weeks. You only need to phone your GP if you develop symptoms.

If someone has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the HSE will attempt to make contact with everyone that person may have been in close contact with. Close contact includes:

  • Face-to-face contact
  • Spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of an infected person
  • Living in the same house as an infected person

How do I protect myself from coronavirus?

The best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Ireland is through proper hygiene. Here are the steps the HSE recommend for preventing COVID-19:

Do I need to wear a mask?

It is suggested that you wear a face mask when you are in places where it is difficult for you to practice social distancing by staying 2 metres away from other people.

In Ireland, it is mandatory to wear a face covering in the following places, which means you have to do it:

  • On public transport
  • In shops and shopping centres
  • Libraries
  • Cinemas and cinema complexes
  • Theatres
  • Concert halls
  • Bingo halls
  • Museums
  • Services such as hairdressers, nail care/styling, tattoo or piercings
  • Travel Agents
  • Laundries/Dry Cleaners
  • Betting shops

f you refuse to wear a face covering in any of the places or services listed above, including shops, shopping centres, libraries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, hairdressers or museums, you could be facing:

  • A fine of up to €2,500
  • Up to 6 months imprisonment
  • Both a fine and imprisonment

If you do not wear a mask on public transport or refuse to put one on when asked you could face:

  • A fine of up to €2,500
  • Up to 6 months imprisonment

By not wearing a mask, you are increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19 and putting yourself and others at risk of getting the virus.

For more information on coronavirus in Ireland, visit the HSE website.

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Published March 2nd2020
Last updated May 17th2021
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