Coronavirus (COVID-19): overview and advice

A coronavirus is a type of virus. COVID-19 is a new 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 3 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 over five years of age 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.

You can find information on testing, how to book a test and the contact tracing programme on the Public Health Agency website.

Coronavirus app

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

You can download the COVID-19 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.

Do

  • 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

It is recommend that you should think about using face coverings in particular circumstances - short periods in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible. 

In practice, these circumstances will largely mean on public transport and in shops.

The use of face coverings will not be mandatory.

Crucially, do not get a false sense of security about the level of protection provided by wearing a face covering. It is essential that everyone continues to:

  • practise social distancing as much as humanly possible
  • wash their hands thoroughly throughout the day
  • ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’ when they sneeze or cough

That’s still the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

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 anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

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
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

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 bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk 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 ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

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 gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

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 dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

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 LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

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.