General information on Coronavirus and its impact in NI
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a type of virus called coronavirus. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, everyone should be trying to follow social distancing measures as much as possible.
In this section you can find the latest information on COVID-19, including looking after yourself physically and mentally. You can also find specific guidance for different groups of people and changes to our services at the South Eastern Trust.
From Sunday 19 April the Department of Health will be releasing the daily statistics on coronavirus (COVID-19) which will be available at www.health-ni.gov.uk
Below are links to frequently asked questions:
Download the COVID-19 NI App on Google Play or search for Covid-19 NI on the Apple Store.
What should I do if I think I have 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
- a loss of or change in sense of smell or taste.
Everyone you live with must stay at home. You should arrange a test for COVID-19 here.
You can ring NHS 111 for information or advice and they will help you decide if you need to contact your GP. Calling your GP may be necessary if you have:
- an existing health condition;
- problems with your immune system;
- you feel you are not coping with your symptoms.
Do not attend your GP surgery or emergency department in person before calling ahead and speaking with someone.
If you have very serious symptoms or feel it is a medical emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999 and inform the operator of your symptoms.
While waiting for your test or if you receive a positive diagnosis for COVID-19:
- you’ll need to stay at home for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started;
- after 7 days from when your symptoms started:
- if you have not had a high temperature for 48 hours, you no longer need to self-isolate;
- if you still have a high temperature, you need to self-isolate until your temperature has returned to normal for 48 hours.
- you do not need to self-isolate if you only have a cough or loss of sense of smell/taste after 7 days, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
- if you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home and self-isolate also. If the person with symptoms tests positive for COVID-19, everyone in the household without symptoms will need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms;
- however, if you develop symptoms during this 14-day period, you’ll need to stay at home for at least 7 days from the day your symptoms started (regardless of what day you are on in the original 14-day period). Follow the advice above on when to end self-isolation.
If you receive a negative diagnosis for COVID-19:
If you develop new or worsening symptoms, you should self-isolate and can arrange to be re-tested.
Preventing the spread of infection
Like seasonal flu, the same public health advice applies for COVID-19: if you cough or sneeze, use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose, throw it away carefully after use, and wash your hands.
The best way to prevent the spread of infections, including COVID-19, is good personal hygiene. This means washing your hands well and often, using soap and water and drying them with paper towels.
Coronavirus information leaflets and posters
- Coronavirus Public Information Downloads
- Coronavirus Advice Czechoslovakian
- Coronavirus Advice Hungarian Translation
- Coronavirus Advice Romanian Translation
- Coronavirus Advice Romani Translation
- Coronavirus Advice Hand Hygiene, Symptoms, Isolation (Easy Read format)
- Coronavirus Advice: Learning Disability (Easy Read format)
- Coronavirus Advice: British Sign Language (BSL) Video
- Coronavirus Advice: Irish Sign Language (ISL) Video
- Key contacts for support for blind and partially sighted people in NI
- Shopping Advice (Social Distancing)
Visitation during COVID-19
*Visiting for hospitals and care homes have further restrictions as of 23 September 2020.
Only one member of a family will be permitted a visit once a week. This must be arranged by appointment with a nurse in charge of the ward they intend to visit. More frequent visits may be permitted in exceptional circumstances, by arrangement with the ward.
- Paediatrics: Any children admitted can be accompanied by one parent or carer at a time.
- Maternity: A person in labour can be accompanied by one birthing partner. There are no visitors permitted in antenatal or post-natal ward areas.
- Neonatal Unit: A patient in the neonatal ward / paediatric ICU may be accompanied by one parent. The duration of the visit must be agreed with the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse.
- Intensive Care Unit: Our ICU unit is split into two sections.
Non Covid ICU – 1 visit per week for 1 hour. This is pre-arranged with the same nominated family member.
Covid ICU – No visiting unless end of life, when possible. To facilitate that we ensure no aerosol generating procedures (AGP’s) for at least 40 mins prior to this visit, permit 2 family members in full PPE (best fit mask). This is fully explained to the visiting relative in advance. By facilitating this we reduce the need for visiting relatives to isolate for 14 days.
- End of life care: One visitor permitted to visit. The duration and timing of the visit must be agreed in advance with the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse (normally a maximum of one hour).
We still enable virtual visiting, and a daily update phone call to the patient’s next of kin.
Further details are available here.
For patients attending appointments
- Everyone attending the hospital must wear a face covering (you must bring this with you)
- Sanitise your hands.
- Follow social distancing measures.
- Attend your hospital appointment on your own (unless you require assistance)
- If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, do not enter until you have contacted the service you are attending to make specific arrangements.
In order to continue to offer an opportunity for friends and family to connect with their loved ones, we are making virtual visitation available to our patients via Zoom. Our IT teams have developed the guides below to help you connect with your loved ones.
People must not visit if they are feeling unwell, especially if they have a high temperature or new persistent cough. Children are also not permitted to visit.
Visitors must ensure that they carry out full hand washing or use sanitizer on entry when visiting. They should be bare below the elbows, and have no jewelry except a flat wedding band. Hands should be washed or sanitizer used when leaving.
Changes to appointments
In recognition of the expected rise in cases across NI, the Trust is down turning non -urgent activity. This will include non- urgent consultant-led outpatient appointments, day cases and inpatient and diagnostic work. This downturn will allow staff to focus on preparations and the training required to care for COVID -19 suspected and confirmed cases. It will also ensure that sufficient capacity is released to address any increase in demand for services.
Currently, only non- urgent outpatients, day case, inpatient and diagnostic services will be reduced. Any suspect cancer or urgent episodes of care will continue.
Patients whose appointments have been cancelled will have received a telephone call or a letter. If patients have not been contacted, they should attend their appointment as normal.
Healthcare Apps to help you during COVID-19
Health and Social Care (HSC) in NI in partnership with ORCHA (Organisation for Review of Care and Health Apps) has developed a library of high quality, convenient Apps to support health and social wellbeing during these difficult times.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted on us all, leading to unprecedented changes in our everyday lives. The restricted living conditions and daily challenges we face can lead to feelings of stress and other difficult emotions.
The Apps included in the library provide useful support and information on how to manage stress and improve wellbeing, sleep management, staying fit and nutrition.
You can access the Apps Library via your smart phone or PC at: – apps4healthcareni.hscni.net.
Vulnerable groups and those with underlying health conditions
- For the latest advice for older people and people with an underlying health condition click here.
- For the latest PHA advice for people with a learning disability click here. Advice from Mencap and other organisations can be found here.
- You can find advice for pregnant women and parents at www.ni-maternity.com or by clicking here. HSC staff who are pregnant can get more advice here.
This video has been made by the Psychological Services team at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust for parents and children who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19. It aims to help parents support their child to understand the loss and say goodbye when the usual traditions and funeral practices cannot take place. It is accompanied by a workbook, which is available (along with advice and practical guidance on grief and bereavement for adults) here.
Looking after your emotional and mental wellbeing
It’s important to take care of your mental and emotional wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
If you are concerned about your physical or emotional wellbeing, you should contact your GP.
If you are in emotional distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.
- Information on the free Stress Control classes and other training opportunities click here
- For a library of helpful healthcare apps click here
- Further useful leaflets can be found here
- For more information, resources and self-help guides to support for your mental health and emotional wellbeing at this time visit the COVID Wellbeing NI Hub
Click here to download or view a printable copy.