Advice on how to help reduce your chances of getting coronavirus & what to do if you think you have symptoms

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which can cause disease in animals and humans. In humans, the coronaviruses can cause mild respiratory infections, like the common cold, but can also lead to serious illnesses, like pneumonia.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an illness caused by a newly discovered coronavirus, that can affect your lungs and airways. COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. Some people may have only a few symptoms while some people may not have symptoms at all. Coronavirus (COVID-19) can make anyone seriously ill. But for some people, the risk is higher.

How is it spread?

The COVID-19 virus is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. It’s also possible to be infected by touching contaminated surfaces, which is why it’s very important to wash your hands regularly. Try not to touch your face, eyes or mouth with unwashed hands.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

• A fever (high temperature – 38 degrees Celsius or above)

• A cough – this can be any kind of cough, not just dry

• Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties

• A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Although not everyone with coronavirus experiences symptoms, most people have at least one of these symptoms. Commonly, symptoms start to appear around five to six days after coming into contact with the virus but this can range from anywhere between one to 14 days. 

What should I do if I have coronavirus symptoms?

If you develop coronavirus symptoms, you should self-isolate (stay indoors and avoid other people) and phone your GP. Don’t 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 coronavirus, they’ll arrange a test.

How can I help to avoid catching or spreading germs?

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading. Remember even if you don’t have symptoms, you can still spread the virus. You can help prevent the spread of infection and avoid being exposed to coronavirus by doing the following:

Try to stay at least two metres (three steps) away from anyone you don’t live with (or anyone not in your support bubble)

• Wash your hands with soap and water often – for at least 20 seconds each time

• Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

• Wash your hands as soon as you get home

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

• Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

What are the treatment options?

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus, but you can often ease the symptoms at home until you recover.

Treating a high temperature

• Get lots of rest

• Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration

Paracetamol or ibuprofen may help to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains. Paracetamol is usually recommended as the first-line of treatment for most people. Before taking any medication, read the full package leaflet that comes with your medicine. Follow any advice a healthcare professional gives you.

Treating a cough

• Get lots of rest

• Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration

• Try hot lemon and honey (not suitable for babies under one year old)

• You may want to try cough syrups or cough sweets. These will not stop your cough but may help you cough less

Phone your GP if your symptoms don’t improve. If you’re over the age of 60 or have a condition that puts you at higher risk from COVID-19, keep a close eye on your symptoms. Phone your GP straight away if they get worse.

Where can I get more information on coronavirus?

The Department of Health have a range of information at:

Health advice is available from the HSE website:

Travel information is available via the Department of Foreign Affairs: