You will have heard through media reports about Coronavirus (COVID-19), the new respiratory illness that originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and now has affected people in over 30 countries including Europe. This virus is a concern for public health globally because it is being transmitted from human to human and can cause serious illness including Pneumonia, and in 2% of cases, fatal.
We have been keeping a close eye on its progression, are working closely with the HSE and as we may get some cases in Ireland in the future, we wanted to communicate our plan and be ready if it affects any CK staff or clients or other related parties.
This communication covers the following.
- Symptoms of Virus
- Risk of catching the virus
- What to do if you suspect you may have the virus
- How Coronavirus is spread?
- How do you protect yourself and others?
- At-risk groups?
- How to report any concerns to Comfort Keepers
- Symptoms of the virus
It can take up to 14 days for the symptoms of coronavirus to appear. These symptoms may include;
- shortness of breath
- breathing difficulties
- fever (high temperature)
Risk of catching coronavirus
There has been no confirmed case of coronavirus in Ireland. The risk of getting coronavirus in Ireland is low according to the HSE.
What to do if you suspect you have the virus
You will only need to be tested for coronavirus, if you have symptoms and have in the last 14 days been:
- in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus
- to mainland China – this does not include Hong Kong or Macau
- in a healthcare centre or hospital where patients with coronavirus are being treated
If your doctor thinks that you need a test for coronavirus, they will tell you where the test will be done. They will also tell you when to expect your results. Please telephone the Coronavirus helpline and don’t attend a GP practice or hospital. Call first HSELive on 1850 24 1850 (Monday – Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm)
If there is a case here, health professionals will try to contact anyone who has been in contact with the infected person.
You only need to isolate yourself from other people if in the last 14 days you have:
- been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus
- recently been to mainland China – this does not include Hong Kong or Macau – and have developed symptoms of coronavirus
- recently been in a healthcare centre or hospital where patients with coronavirus were being treated and have developed symptoms of coronavirus
How coronavirus is spread
Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. 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
Because it’s a new illness, we do not know how easily the virus spreads from person to person. We do not know if someone can spread the virus before they show symptoms. Simple household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces. Clean the surface first and then use a disinfectant. Packages from China – You cannot get coronavirus from packages or food that has come from China or elsewhere.
How to protect yourself and others
Reinforce Comfort Keepers infection control procedures by;
- wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands
- follow the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs if travelling to China or other affected areas
do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
The flu vaccine does not protect against coronavirus.
Wash your hands:
- after coughing or sneezing
- after toilet use
- before eating
- before and after preparing food
- if you are in contact with a sick person, especially those with respiratory symptoms
- if your hands are dirty
- if you have handled animals or animal waste
Please take some time to watch this handwashing video as a reminder of your handwashing technique
- do not use a face mask if you feel well and do not have symptoms – there’s no evidence that using masks is of any benefit if you are not sick
- wash your hands properly and regularly
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze
- You should use a facemask if you:
- have or may have coronavirus
- are in close contact with someone who has or may have coronavirus
Comfort Keepers have a stock of face masks should they be needed but this will be carried on a risk-based assessment as per guidance from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and HSE.
We do not know for sure which groups are most at risk of complications if they catch coronavirus. But it is likely you are more at risk if you catch coronavirus and:
- are 65 years of age and over
- have a long-term medical condition – for example, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or liver disease
Children and coronavirus. The risk of your child catching coronavirus at school or in childcare is low. If your child has recently travelled to mainland China, follow the guidance above. Encourage your child to wash their hands regularly and properly.
Pets. There is no evidence that pets such as cats and dogs can catch or spread coronavirus.
Travelling to China or other affected areas;
- do not travel to China unless it is essential that you go
- do not visit animal or bird markets in China
- do not go to places in China where live or dead animals are handled
- do not visit anyone in China who is ill with cold or flu-like symptoms such as sneezing or coughing
- do not touch animals and their poo (droppings) in China
- Follow the up-to-date travel information from the Department of Foreign Affairs
How to report any concerns to Comfort Keepers
Please call your office or the out of hours service immediately. They will support you on next steps. All offices numbers are on our website for ease of references. www.comfortkeepers.ie
Please advise your team if you have returned from an affected area OR if you were in close contact (including your clients) with a confirmed case of coronavirus
- Recently been to mainland China – this does not include Hong Kong or Macau – and have developed symptoms of coronavirus
- Recently been in a healthcare centre or hospital where patients with coronavirus were being treated and have developed symptoms of coronavirus
If any of the above applies to you, we will ask you to
- Confirm the clients you have visited in the last 14 days
- Other staff you have been in contact within the last 14 days
We will share this information with the HSE and any other relevant authority as directed by the Infectious Diseases Legislation and Guidance.