Information for Patients on COVID-19

This page was updated on: 3 April 2020

It is important that everyone has access to accurate information about the virus, understands what protections to take and follows the public health recommendations from the Department of Health and the HSE. We aim to keep this page updated as we liaise with the public health authorities.

Public Health Information – Stay Home

The advice now for everyone is to stay at home. This is how we will contain the spread of the virus. The HSE website has useful and important information for the public, including overview of symptoms and how to engage with the health services if you have concerns. It also includes the protections and precautions we all need to take, and information for people who may be more vulnerable to the virus. It is important that we are all getting our information from reliable places – visit the HSE and Department of Health websites, speak to your pharmacist or GP, and listen to the radio and television notices about what needs to be done to contain the spread of Coronavirus. There are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment

For the most likely to be at risk from illness, there is information available online about what it means to self-isolate and cocoon and there is detailed support in this Health Protection Surveillance Centre guidance for people who will cocoon, and for their family, friends and carers. If you are not sure if cocooning applies to you, you should have a conversation with your GP. There is a national plan in place to support everyone who will need to stay at home at this time and you can contact your local authority (council) for assistance.

For older people the ALONE support network is providing a telephone support line, seven days a week from 8am – 8pm 0818 222 024. You can contact HSE Live 1850 24 1850 for information and advice on health services.

Pharmacy Services

Your pharmacist will be able to provide you with accurate and reliable information, and to ensure the safe and appropriate use of medicines. At this time in particular they will be guided by Ireland’s public health authorities, including the Department of Health and the HSE.

Like the rest of the health service, pharmacies are under pressure to ensure ongoing and safe care. There will be differences in how services are delivered or in the way you get your medicines at this time. We suggest that you contact your pharmacy for more information about how the pharmacy will continue to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, this might include reduced opening hours, ways on how to re-order and collect your prescription, arrangements to accommodate social distancing that have been implemented in line with Government guidelines and delivery of medicines.

If you do not have someone to go on your behalf for your medicines, you can talk to your pharmacy about getting medicines delivered. There is a checklist for patients in this guidance about home delivery of medicines during this time.

It remains important to have a phone call with your pharmacist or doctor if you have any concern about the medicine you are taking and how to take it.

For general information about what you can expect from your community pharmacist, read our Patient Charter

My Medicines and COVID-19

It is important to follow public health guidelines if you think you have symptoms of the Coronavirus. Do not go directly to the pharmacy or to the GP if you are concerned that you have the virus. You may infect others if you do this. Please read the HSE advice on what to do if you have symptoms.

The HSE website has useful information about the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms including the use of medicines. It has advice on the continued use of medicines if you have an existing condition. If you have symptoms of the virus it is important to take any medication you are already taking as usual, unless you are told not to by a healthcare professional. With all medicines you are taking, it remains very important to read the patient information leaflet.

Pharmacists will be working to ensure that there is supply of medicines available to those who need them, balancing the interests of their patients and wider society. It is important not to stockpile medicines. Doing this will affect the existing stocks of medicines that are available in Ireland and may impact on the care of others.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 acute respiratory disease. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Around the world, including in Ireland, work continues to develop treatments and vaccines to respond to the current outbreak.

Further information