Covid-19: Understanding the Key Terms

COVID-19 / Corona Virus is a new respiratory illness that has not previously been seen in humans. This type of coronavirus is also known as 2019-nCov or novel coronavirus.

Cocooning is a measure designed to protect people who are vulnerable due to their age or health condition. People who are cocooning should:

  • Limit their movements and interactions as much as possible
  • Avoid going to social gatherings or to any healthcare, educational or workplace settings.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 2m from other people if they go outside.
  • Have their food and medication (including methadone) delivered to them if it is possible. If it is not possible, they can collect them while keeping a safe distance away from others.

Self Isolation is a measure designed for people who have the symptoms of coronavirus, are waiting for testing, or have tested positive. Self-isolation should be for a period of 5 days with no fever and 14 days after symptoms started. People who are self- isolating should:

  • Stay at home
  • Avoid all contact with other people by staying in their bedroom and using a separate toilet. They should clean the toilet after using it.
  • Wear a facemask in common areas of the house. If this is not possible, stay 1m away from other people.
  • Not share items such as kitchenware or laundry.

The guidance for self-isolation is here

Quarantine is a measure for people who have been in close contact with confirmed case of COVID-19. This can be a person without symptoms (low risk of transmission) or a person who has symptoms and was tested but test was negative. This is for a period of up to 14 days (shorter if delay between exposure and identification).People who are quarantining should:

  • Limit their movements and interactions as much as possible
  • Avoid going to social gatherings, healthcare, educational and workplace settings.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 1m from other people if they go outside

There are no restrictions on other household members (unless they are close contacts)

Restricted movements means avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. It is sometimes referred to as self-quarantine. You do this to stop other people from getting coronavirus. You need to restrict your movements if you do not have symptoms of coronavirus but you are:

  • a close contact of a confirmed case of coronavirus
  • returning to Ireland from another country

Social/ Physical distancing is important to help slow the spread of coronavirus. It does this by

minimising contact between potentially infected people and healthy people.


  • Keep a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people if you must go out.
  • Reduce interactions with people outside the workplace and home.
  • Avoid non-essential interactions.
  • Reduce the number of people you meet every day to only close family and work colleagues.
  • Avoid communal sleeping areas.
  • Avoid crowded places work from home where possible.


  • Shake hands
  • Make close contact with other people

Basic Information About COVID-19

 The most common symptoms include:

  • a cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties
  • fever (high temperature)

How is COVID-19 Spread?

 Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. It is not airborne.

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.

Protecting Myself and Those Around Me

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty.

Practice good respiratory hygiene. This means when coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue. If you use a tissue, discard it immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth–if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.

Who is considered to be within the ‘At-risk’ group if they contract COVID-19?

You are considered within the ‘at-risk’ group if you contract COVID-19 if you:

  • Are 60 years of age and over – people over 75 are particularly vulnerable
  • Have a long-term medical condition – for example, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure
  • Have a weak immune system (immunosuppressed) i.e. on chemotherapy or have a blood borne virus such as HIV
  • Cancer treatment
  • Treatment for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Pregnant women (see Health Protection Surveillance Centre, HPSC, for particular guidance

around this)

Useful Resources

  • HSE Guidelines: Click here
  • World Health Organisation: Questions and Answers on COVID-19: Click here