Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new respiratory illness. This strain has not previously been seen in humans and first presented in the Wuhan region of China in December 2019. The advice below is based on the HSE’s guidance and is correct at the time of writing (14/02/20).
Risk of catching coronavirus
As I write this article (February 14th), there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland. The risk of getting coronavirus in Ireland is low. If there is a case here, health authorities will try to contact anyone who has been in contact with the infected person.
It can take up to 14 days for the symptoms of coronavirus to appear. Symptoms may include cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties and fever. Coronavirus can also cause more severe illness including pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure.
When you may need a test
You will only need to be tested for coronavirus if you have symptoms and have in the last 14 days been:
- in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus
- to mainland China - this does not include Hong Kong or Macau
- in a healthcare centre or hospital where patients with coronavirus were being treated
How coronavirus is spread
Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets.
You could get the virus if you:
- come into close contact with someone who has the virus and is coughing or sneezing
- touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on
Packages from China
You cannot get coronavirus from packages or food that has come from China or elsewhere. There is no evidence that animals or animal products legally imported into the EU are a health risk due to coronavirus.
- Wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands
- Follow travel advice from the department of Foreign Affairs if traveling to China
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Do not use a facemask if you feel well and do not have symptoms. There is no evidence that using masks is of any benefit if you are not sick
You should use a facemask if you:
- have or may have coronavirus
- are in close contact with someone who has or may have coronavirus
- are a healthcare worker in close contact with people who may have or have coronavirus
There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. But many of the symptoms of the virus can be treated. If you get the virus, your healthcare professional will advise treatment based on your symptoms. Antibiotics do not work against coronavirus or any viruses. They only work against bacterial infections. There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus.
Travel to China
The HSE advises to avoid all non-essential travel to mainland China.
Thanks to the HSE for advice for this article. Check the HSE’s Coronavirus advice on the HSE website for more comprehensive information.
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans Pharmacys, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).