Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

The new or novel coronavirus we are all hearing about at the moment is one of a large family of viruses that can infect humans and other animals.    This particular one is named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease it causes is known as Covid-19.  It originated in the city of Wuhan, China in late 2019 and has now spread all over the world including Ireland.

Coronavirus (Picture Credit -Alissa Eckert, MS, Dan Higgins, MAM)

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

Symptoms of Covid-19 include the following –

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing

Some patients may develop a severe illness such as pneumonia (an infection in one or both lungs) or kidney failure.  Death has resulted with a fatality rate of around 2%.  More than 80% of cases are mild with only 4.7% critical.

Who is most at risk?

People at most risk from Covid-19 are people with the following –

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic breathing diseases
  • High blood pressure

How does the disease spread?

The virus can spread by direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person.  This includes, for example, droplets produced by coughing and sneezing.  It can also be caused by contact with surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on.

How long before symptoms appear?

It seems that that symptoms take between 2 and 14 days to appear once someone has become infected.

How do I protect myself and others against Covid-19 (Coronavirus)?

There are a number of ways to protect yourself and others.  The first is through hand washing, while the second is through respiratory hygiene.  You should also practice social distancing and regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.

You should wash your hands with soap and water

  • Before, during and after you prepare food
  • Before eating
  • After using the toilet
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • When caring for someone who is sick
  • When your hands are visibly dirty
  • After handling animals or animal waste

Click here to view a video from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on how to wash your hands properly.

If you are coughing or sneezing you should cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue and remember to bin it afterwards.  If you don’t have a tissue available then cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow instead.  Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Practice social distancing.  This means keeping a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people.  Do not shake hands or make close contact if possible.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Stay at home if you are sick to help stop the spread of whatever infection you may have.

What about face masks?

While face masks are available they are not recommended for members of the public who are feeling well and do not have any respiratory symptoms.   Your doctor will advise you if you should wear a mask.

Do antibiotics work?

Unfortunately, antibiotics are not effective against illnesses caused by viruses.  Do not take antibiotics for any illness unless they have been prescribed for you for that particular illness by your doctor.

Is there a vaccine against Covid-19 (Coronavirus)?

There is no vaccine available against Covid-19 (Coronavirus) at the moment but a number of pharmaceutical companies are working hard to develop one.  Other medicines are being studied also to see if they are effective against the virus.  The flu vaccine does not give you any protection against the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

What do I do if I think I might have Covid-19?

If you become unwell with symptoms such as cough, fever or shortness of breath, please phone your family doctor (GP) who will advise you on what to do.  Please do not present at your GP surgery or hospital before phoning them for guidance first.

Where do I get more information?

For up to date information please visit the HSE Coronavirus Page

Stay in touch with local and national news bulletins and follow the advice of the HSE and the authorities.