COVID-19 (coronavirus)

COVID-19 coronavirus


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Everyone in Northern Ireland should now be social distancing

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

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.

Social distancing will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus by reducing the social interaction between people.

You should:

  • avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus - these symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
  • avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible
  • work from home, where possible - your employer should support you to do this.
  • avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
  • avoid gatherings with friends and family – keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  • use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as possible. This will mean our usual social activities are on hold for the moment. It’s very important that we look after our mental and emotional wellbeing. Based on the Take 5 steps to wellbeing, this leaflet offers tips on supporting your mental and emotional wellbeing while staying at home during the current coronavirus outbreak.

We strongly advise you to follow the above measures and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:

  • are over 70;
  • have an underlying health condition;
  • are pregnant.

This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

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


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Preventing the spread of infection

Like seasonal flu, the same public health advice applies for COVID-19 (Coronavirus): if you cough or sneeze, use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose, throw it away carefully after use, and wash your hands.

catch it

The best way to prevent the spread of infections, including coronavirus, is good personal hygiene. This means washing your hands regularly using soap and water and drying them with paper towels.

COVID-19 is caused by a virus. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. Antibiotics should not be used to try to prevent or treat COVID-19 (coronavirus). They will not work and may cause harm.

A British Sign Language version of this information is available here.

An Irish Sign Language Version of this information is available here.


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What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?

If you have either:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature);
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).

Everyone in your house must stay at home.

Do not go to your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

  • if you have symptoms of coronavirus, you'll need to stay at home for 7 days;
  • if you live with someone who has symptoms, you'll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms;
  • however, if you develop symptoms during this 14-day period, you’ll need to stay at home for 7 days from the day your symptoms started (regardless of what day you are on in the original 14-day period). This may mean you have to stay at home for a maximum of 21 days;
  • if you have symptoms and 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 they can stay with for the 14-day isolation period;
  • it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community;
  • testing for coronavirus is not needed if you are well enough to stay at home.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. Guidance on this can be found on the Public Health England website:

You can ring NHS 111 for information or advice and they will help you decide if you need to contact your GP.

Calling your GP is only necessary if you have:

  • an existing health condition;
  • problems with your immune system;
  • very serious symptoms.

Do not attend your GP surgery or emergency department in person before calling ahead and speaking with someone.

If it is a medical emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999 and inform the operator of your symptoms.

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


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Advice on testing

Testing is currently limited to patients who are being admitted to hospital and some health care workers.

We would advise caution about obtaining testing from non-governmental sources. A positive or negative test will not be recognised by the NHS and will not change the advice given.  You will still have to observe recommended isolation periods.

Please be aware that the NHS is not offering testing to people in the community. If a person calls at your front door offering to test you, do not allow them to enter your home.  Close and lock the door.  Inform the police.             

If you work in healthcare: You should contact your Trust line manager and occupational health. Your employer will give specific advice about diagnostic testing and when you can return to work.


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Travel advice

The Public Health Agency (PHA) does not issue travel advice. If you’re concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on your existing travel plans, check with your airline, tour operator, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers as applicable. People who plan to travel should check the travel advice here


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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.


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Advice for pregnancy

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

Please read this advice carefully.


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Guidance for healthcare professionals

Guidance for domiciliary care providers

For information for Domiciliary Care Providers see GUIDANCE FOR DOMICILIARY CARE PROVIDERS - COVID19.pdf.


Guidance for Nursing and Residential Care Homes

For information for Nursing and Residential Care Homes see GUIDANCE FOR RESIDENTIAL CARE PROVIDERS - COVID19.pdf.


Guidance for General Dental Practitioners

For information for General Dental Practitioners click here.


Guidance for Homeless Providers in Northern Ireland

For information for Homeless Providers in Northern Ireland click here


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Guidance for educational settings and child care

Information for schools and other educational settings in providing advice for pupils, students, staff and parents or carers regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is available from the Department of Education, please visit 


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Guidance for workers, businesses and other organisations

If you have to stay at home because of coronavirus and you need a note for your employer, visit NHS 111 online.

Guidance for employers and businesses

For guidance for employers and businesses in providing advice about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) click here.

For guidance on further businesses and premises to close click here.

For the latest pre-employment vetting guidance for health and social care providers. see here.


Guidance for shipping and sea ports

For guidance for shipping and seaports on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) see Guidance for Shipping and seaports on corona virus.pdf.


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Public information posters and leaflets for download

Advice on COVID-19 (Coronavirus), including posters and social media graphics are available here.


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What is the situation in Northern Ireland?

28 March 2020 

The Public Health Agency Health Protection surveillance team has established surveillance systems which are used to monitor COVID-19 activity in Northern Ireland. The systems allow us to monitor trends, inform public health measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission, and to measure the impact of public health measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission in both hospital and community settings. 

As of 9.16am on Saturday 28 March, testing has resulted in 49 new positive cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Northern Ireland to 324.

To date, 15 people who tested positive have sadly died.

Surveillance reports can be found here

Information sources

As this situation is rapidly changing the most up-to-date guidance can be found on the Public Health England website:

Advice for medical professionals can be found at:

For information on guidance for healthcare professionals on COVID-19 infection in pregnancy see:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice:

For further information on coronavirus see:


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Previous situation updates

COVID-19 - 23 January 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 31 January 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 6 February 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 9 February 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 10 February 2020.pdf
COVID-19 19 February 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 20 February 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 25 January 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 28 February 2020 - 1.pdf
COVID-19 - 28 February 2020 - 2.pdf
COVID-19 - 29 February 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 6 March 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 7 March 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 11 March 2020.pdf
COVID-19 - 13 March 2020.pdf
COVID 19 – 15 March 2020.pdf
COVID -19 - 21 March 2020.pdf


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