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 for COVID-19

Everyone over five years of age in Northern Ireland with symptoms of coronavirus is now eligible for testing.

You can find information on testing and how to arrange a test 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.


  • 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 is being established to help manage the growth of 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

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