COVID 19 – An Overview

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

Symptoms of coronavirus

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of coronavirus to appear. They can be similar to the symptoms of cold and flu.

Common symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • a fever (high temperature – 38 degrees Celsius or above)
  • a cough – this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
  • shortness of breath (breathing difficulties)

For people who get infected with coronavirus:

  • 80% will have mild illness and make a full recovery within a few weeks
  • 14% will have a more severe illness
  • 6% will have a critical illness

Read more about the symptoms and causes of coronavirus

Protect yourself and others from coronavirus

Everyone needs to stay at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus. You should only leave for essential reasons. This is the best way to protect your friends, families and communities.

It’s important to practice social distancing and wash your hands properly and often.

Follow this advice to protect yourself and others from coronavirus

Restricted movements and self-isolation

To help stop the spread of coronavirus everyone has been asked to stay at home. But some people may need to do more than this.

You may need to either:

You do these things to stop other people from getting coronavirus.

Read more about restricted movements and self-isolation

At-risk groups

There are some groups of people who may be at risk of serious illness if they catch coronavirus.  This is similar to other infections such as flu.

People in these at-risk groups will be prioritised for tests if they have symptoms of coronavirus.

Read more about who is included in the at-risk groups


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 are in one of these groups, you must take extra care to reduce interaction with other people. Do not go outside your home and garden.

Read more about cocooning


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.

Read more about how testing for coronavirus is carried out


There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. But many of the symptoms of coronavirus can be treated at home. Take any medication you are already taking as usual, unless you are told not to by a healthcare professional.

Most people who catch 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.

Read more about how to treat the symptoms of coronavirus

Read more about medicines and taking your medications during coronavirus

Pregnancy and coronavirus

When you are pregnant, your body naturally weakens your immune system. This is to help your pregnancy continue successfully. It means that when you are pregnant you may pick up infections more easily.

All pregnant women should get the flu vaccine. This will protect you and your baby from the flu, not from coronavirus.

Read more about pregnancy and coronavirus

Children and coronavirus

Around the world, very few cases of coronavirus have been reported in children. Children can sometimes get the virus. But they seem to get a milder infection than adults or older people do.

Children may also play a big role in spreading the virus. That’s why they should stay away from at-risk groups, such as people over the age of 60. This is because older people, or people in at risk groups, might have a harder time fighting the virus.

Encourage your child to wash their hands regularly and properly.

Read more about how to clean your hands

Read more advice for parents and children during the coronavirus outbreak

Travel and coronavirus

Arriving to Ireland from another country

If you do not have symptoms of coronavirus

You will need to restrict your movements for 14 days if you return to Ireland from any other country.

You do not need to restrict your movements if you:

  • return to the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland
  • are an essential supply chain worker, for example, a pilot, haulier, maritime staff member

Follow this advice to protect yourself and others from coronavirus.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus

If you develop symptoms of 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 coronavirus, they will arrange a test.

Find contact details for your GP

Travelling to another country from Ireland

Avoid all non-essential travel to other countries.

Read the latest COVID-19 Travel Advisory travel information from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Travel to areas with widespread local transmission

If you travel to an area with widespread local transmission of coronavirus, the risk of catching the virus is high. The World Health Organisation (WHO) publish daily information on rates of local transmission.

Pets and coronavirus

There is no evidence that pets such as cats and dogs can catch or spread coronavirus.

Contact and resources for Deaf people

Deaf Irish Sign Language users can get information about 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

This service is for Deaf Irish Sign Language users only.

Watch more Irish Sign Language videos about coronavirus

More information

Department of Health – latest updates on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre – information for health professionals

Read about hospital service disruptions and visiting restrictions