What is COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common across the world.  These viruses can cause mild symptoms ranging from a fever and cough to more serious conditions such as severe pneumonia, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. 

In December 2019, a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan City, China. This virus has spread to other countries and a pandemic has now been declared. This means that the virus is widespread in many countries all over the world. The UK Chief Medical Officers have declared the risk to the UK to be high.

What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

Stay at home if you have either of the following symptoms;

  • a high temperature (fever) – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back or a thermometer reads 37.8 degrees C or higher
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've recently started coughing repeatedly

How do I get medical advice?

  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital unless you have been told to do so;
  • phone NHS 111 if you need medical advice;
  • you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home;
  • phone your GP if you; are very unwell or have a health condition that means you are usually called for the annual flu jab, or have problems with your immune system;
  • if you have symptoms other than fever or cough, they could be caused by another illness. If you feel that you need advice from a GP, please phone them.

Do I need a test for coronavirus?

  • Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.

How long should I stay at home?

  • If you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days. After seven days you can return to normal activities as long as you do not have a high temperature (fever);
  • if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.

Advice for home isolation

When self-isolating:

  • Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home;
  • ask your employer, friends and family to help you get the things you need to stay at home;
  • stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home if possible;
  • sleep alone, if possible;
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water;
  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days;
  • if you have to stay at home with other people, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

Advice on how to self-isolate can be obtained here.

Website instructions for self-isolation:

For more information see COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection

For more information see COVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people 

Advice for older people and people with an underlying health condition

For the latest advice for older people and people with an underlying health condition click here.

Please read this advice carefully.

Advice for pregnancy

For the latest advice for women who are pregnant click here.

Please read this advice carefully.


Cocooning is a way of protecting the people in our communities that are most at risk of serious illness. Everyone over 70 years of age or with a serious medical condition, should stay at home.  

For updated factual information on COVID-19 (coronavirus), at risk groups and cocooning, visit https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/