Last updated: 3 April 2020 at 8pm
To protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19), think about how the virus is spread.
Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person's nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. This can be direct or indirect (on hands, objects, surfaces).
Keep this in mind. It will help you remember all the things you need to do to protect yourself and others from the virus.
Stay at home
Everyone needs to stay at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus. You should only leave your home to:
- shop for essential food and household goods
- attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products
- care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits
- exercise outdoors - within 2 kilometres of your home and only with people from your own household - keeping 2 metres between you and other people
- travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing
There is separate advice about:
- restricting your movements if you live with someone who has symptoms, a confirmed case or has returned to Ireland from another country
- self-isolating if you have symptoms of coronavirus
- taking extra care if you're in an at-risk group
- cocooning for people who are over 70, are extremely medically vulnerable or live in a residential home or long-term care
Social distancing is important to help slow the spread of coronavirus. It does this by minimising contact between potentially infected individuals and healthy individuals.
- keep a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people
- avoid communal sleeping areas
- avoid any crowded places
- not shake hands or make close contact with other people, if possible
There is very little risk if you are just passing someone. But try to keep a distance of 2 metres as much as possible.
Social distancing at work
Follow social distancing advice everywhere outside the home. If you are an essential worker still going to work, this includes your workplace.
Email the NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland) if you are an:
- employer and want advice on coronavirus prevention measures in the workplace
- employee and are worried about how your workplace is responding to social distancing or other measures
Good hygiene and hand washing
Follow this advice as strictly as possible and encourage others to follow this advice too.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.
Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
Do not share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups.
Wash your hands properly and often
You should wash your hands:
- after coughing or sneezing
- before and after eating
- before and after preparing food
- if you were in contact with someone who has a fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
- before and after being on public transport if you must use it
- before and after being in a crowd (especially an indoor crowd)
- when you arrive and leave buildings including your home or anyone else's home
- if you have handled animals or animal waste
- before having a cigarette or vaping
- if your hands are dirty
- after toilet use
Keep your hands in good condition, moisturise them often. Any basic product that is not perfumed or coloured is OK.
Do not wear disposable gloves instead of washing your hands. The virus gets on them in the same way it gets on your hands. Also, your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.
Disposable gloves are worn in medical settings. They are not as effective in daily life.
Wearing disposable gloves can give you a false sense of security.
- sneeze or cough into the gloves - this creates a new surface for the virus to live on
- contaminate yourself when taking off the gloves or touching surfaces
- not wash your hands as often as you need to and touch your face with contaminated gloves
Using masks is unlikely to be of any benefit if you are not sick.
Sick people will be advised by their doctor when to use a mask. Healthcare workers need masks and other personal protective equipment to protect them from infection during their work.
Infectious disease outbreaks like coronavirus (COVID-19) can be worrying. This can affect your mental health.