Coronavirus (COVID-19): overview and advice

A coronavirus is a type of virus. COVID-19 is a strain of coronavirus. It can affect your lungs and airways. Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.

Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you have:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature), or;
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual), or;
  • anosmia - the loss or a change in your normal sense of smell (it can also affect your sense of taste)

Everyone in your house must stay at home.

For information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus, go to the Public Health Agency website.

Testing and tracing for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Everyone  in Northern Ireland with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) is now eligible for testing.

There is also a contact tracing programme in place. This is a method to help prevent the further spread of infections such as COVID-19.

Information on testing, how to book a test and the contact tracing programme is available on the following page.

StopCOVID NI app

The new StopCOVID NI app will alert users if they have been in close contact with other users who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The app was designed using the Information Commissioners Office “Privacy by Design” principles and therefore uses only anonymised information in its operation.

Further information on the app is available:

Coronavirus symptom checker app

The new symptom checker app is dedicated to providing people across Northern Ireland with immediate advice and links to vital trusted information.

You can download the COVIDCare NI app for both Apple and Android devices using the relevant links below:

An online version of the app is available from the following link for those without access to a smartphone but who are able to access a computer or tablet device.

    How to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus

    There are simple steps that everyone can take to reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus.


    • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
    • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
    • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
    • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
    • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
    • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

    Do not

    Face coverings

    Since 10 August 2020 it is mandatory to wear face coverings in particular circumstances - short periods in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible.

    Since 10 July 2020 it has also been required that you wear a face covering on public transport.

    Advice for shopping safely

    The Public Health Agency have guidance on how to shop safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

    There are a number of things you can do to help make your shopping trips safer, including:

    • try to reduce the number of shopping trips to once a week
    • avoid taking children or other family members to the shop
    • try to shop at off-peak times
    • try to go to quieter local shops or arrange with local shops for collection or deliveries -  many smaller shops are now offering local deliveries
    • make a shopping list and buy enough in one trip to feed your family for seven days
    • try to manage without certain items and make do - for example, you could try making your own bread or using up food in the cupboard or freezer
    • make a note of what items you have and when they will go out of date so you can use them in date order and avoid waste
    • use your freezer to store perishable items such as bread and meats
    • don’t stockpile items you don’t need – think of others who may need them
    • get essentials, if possible, for someone you know in a vulnerable group and leave them at their door
    • before you go, wash your hands for 20 seconds
    • during your shopping trip avoid touching your face, use contactless payment if possible and maintain social distancing – stay 2m (around 6ft) apart from the next person
    • wipe down the handles of your trolley or basket before and after use with sanitiser or a disinfectant wipe
    • after your shopping trip, wash your hands again for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser if you can’t

    Primary care COVID-19 centres

    A network of new primary care COVID-19 centres has been established to manage coronavirus cases in the community.

    Patients will not be able to report directly to these centres without being referred by their GP or out of hours provider.

    Coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland

    Information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is available on the Department of Health’s website.  The information is updated daily.

    It includes information on hospital admissions and discharges, bed occupancy, a breakdown of cases and the number of COVID-19 related deaths by age and gender.

    Information to help recovery after COVID-19

    COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms but for other people it can be more serious and recovering from the virus may take time. Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has developed a resource to help recovery from the virus, with input from Allied Health Professionals (AHP) and clinical psychologists.

    The resource provides information and advice about:

    • breathlessness
    • clearing your lungs
    • swallowing
    • communication and mouth care
    • eating well to help recovery
    • conserving energy
    • regaining strength and mobility
    • looking after your mental health and wellbeing

    If you have had COVID-19 and have any concerns about your recovery, please contact your GP who will talk to you about treatment options.

    COVID-19 – more information

    Information on the following content is also available on nidirect:

    More useful links

    Share this page

    What do you want to do?
    What is your question about?
    Do you want a reply?
    Your email address
    To reply to you, we need your email address
    Your feedback

    We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

    This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

    You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

    If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

    You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

    The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

    Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

    Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
    Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

    What to do next

    Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to 

    What to do next

    If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

    Carer's Allowance

    Call 0800 587 0912

    Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

    Call 0800 587 2750 

    Disability Living Allowance

    Call 0800 587 0912 

    Employment and Support Allowance

    Call 0800 587 1377

    Jobseeker’s Allowance

    Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

    Personal Independence Payment

    Call 0800 587 0932

    If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

    What to do next

    Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email

    What to do next

    Application and payment queries can be emailed to

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email

    What to do next

    For queries about:

    If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

    What to do next

    If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

    If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about rates, email:

    For queries or advice about property valuation, email:

    For queries or advice about land registry, email:

    For mapping queries, email:

    What to do next

    For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.