Please find below some useful resources and guidance, drawing from a number of sources that may be of use to staff, clients and students of Spirasi during this time. Please refer to the HSE Website and the Irish Government Website for regular updates regarding COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called Coronavirus. The symptoms can be similar to that of a seasonal flu, but the symptoms may present differently in different people, so some people may experience the symptoms more severely than others.
Common symptoms of Coronavirus include:
- a fever (high temperature - 38 degrees Celsius or above)
- a cough - this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
- shortness of breath (breathing difficulties)
- More HSE information on the condition can be found here:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) words and terms explained in plain English
- Translated HSE materials can be found here: https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/newsfeatures/covid19-updates/partner-resources/covid-19-translated-resources/
What should I do if I think I have symptoms of COVID-19/coronavirus?
- If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), you will need to self-isolate and phone your GP. If you do not have a GP, any GP can arrange a test for you.
- Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for COVID-19 (Coronavirus), they will arrange a test.
- Do not ring GP out-of-hours services. They cannot arrange testing.
- To find GP Contact Details in your area, click here
Irish Government Health Advice
Information on Testing
Priority Groups for Testing
The Health Care Executive (HSE) has identified priority groups for testing, among whom are staff and residents of direct provision centres. Please check with your GP. If you are in direct provision centres and need to cocoon , you should notify IPAS (IPAS Website ,email address firstname.lastname@example.org), and your Centre Manager. You may contact a staff member at Spirasi if you need support.
What is Cocooning
Cocooning is a measure to protect those over 70 years or those extremely medically vulnerable by minimising interaction between them and others. This means that these people should not leave their homes. Even within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household.
This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 from coming into contact with the virus.
You can phone your GP to be assessed for a test if:
You are in a Priority Group and have a:
- fever and shortness of breath (breathing difficulties)
If you are in a priority group and have been in contact with someone you think or know has coronavirus and you have any of these symptoms:
- Runny Nose
- Sore Throat
- Body Aches
Information on Current Restrictions in Ireland
Key Items of Note
Stay at home in all circumstances, except in the following situations:
- To travel to and from work where the work is considered an essential service. The full list of essential services is available here.
- Working in an essential shop, bank or post office. The full list of essential shops, post offices and banks is available here.
- To attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products for yourself, your family or someone who is vulnerable or 'cocooning'
- For vital family reasons including caring for children, elderly or vulnerable people but excluding social family visits
- To exercise within 2 kilometres of your house. You cannot exercise with people from outside your household.
Essential services, shops, banks and post offices
- Everyone who can work from home must work from home. This includes essential workers and workers in essential government, utilities or other functions
- The full list of essential services is available here.
- The full list of essential shops, banks and post offices is available here.
- adult community education centres and local community centres are closed
- all essential services should ensure safe working conditions are in place
- specific advice will be available from the Health and Safety Authority
- all non-essential surgery, health procedures and other non-essential health services are postponed
- all visits to hospitals, residential healthcare centres, other residential settings or prisons are stopped with specific exemptions on compassionate grounds
- pharmacists are to be allowed by law to dispense medicines outside the dates spelled out in prescriptions according to their own professional judgement
Transport and Travel
Travel restrictions will be implemented as follows:
- there will be a nationwide restriction on travel outside of 2 kilometres from your home, except for the exceptions listed above.
- public transport and passenger travel will be restricted to those who are buying food or medicines, carers, going to medical appointments and essential workers
- travel to Ireland's offshore islands is limited only to residents of those islands
- local authorities will relax on-street parking laws to meet the travel needs of essential workers
- the arrival of personal non-national maritime leisure vessels is banned (except to exceptions as 'port in a storm')
The measures above will be reflected in the regulations to be made under the Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2000 and will be enforced by the Garda Síochána.
More information for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Ireland
Information on Covid-19 for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers in Ireland from the UN Refugee Agency
Key Items of Note
Can I still make an asylum application?
Yes, the International Protection Office continues to accept new applications for asylum and is providing a limited registration service to new applicants.
I am waiting for my IPO interview, will that be affected? The International Protection Office (IPO) have cancelled all substantive interviews scheduled for Friday 13 March until 17 April. The IPO will be in contact with you to arrange a new interview date once all activities are resumed.
My IPO temporary residence certificate (TRC) and TRC card are due for renewal shortly. What shall I do?
The IPO will issue you a new rolling Temporary Resident Certificate (TRC) card which will be sent to you in the post. All Temporary Residence Certificate Renewal Appointments and call-backs are being suspended until further notice.
If you have been impacted by these arrangements, you are requested not to visit the IPO office until further notice.
I am awaiting a hearing at the International Protection Appeals Tribunal. What will happen to my case?
As of Friday 13 March all hearings at the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) have been suspended to at least the 19 April. The IPAT will contact you for a future appeal hearing date.
Getting Help with a Mental Health Issue
A mental health crisis often means that you no longer feel able to cope or be in control of your situation.
In a crisis, it is important that you get help as soon as possible.
Where to get help
Suicide Risk - Call 999 or 112 if you or someone you know is about to harm themselves or someone else.
GP and health centres
A GP can offer support for anyone in crisis. If possible, ask someone to come along with you.
Find a service near you:
Hospital emergency services
Go to or call the emergency department of your local general hospital.
Telephone emergency services
HSE mental health services
If you are being supported by a mental health team, or have been in the past, contact the service for support in a crisis.
The Samaritans telephone service is available 24 hours a day.
For confidential, non-judgmental support:
Messaging support service
A new mental health messaging support service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It provides in-the-moment anonymous support when you need it most.
This service aims to connect you with a trained volunteer in less than 5 minutes. They will listen to you and help you think more clearly, enabling you to know that you can take the next step to feeling better.
Text YMH to 086 1800 280
Mental Health Crisis
- Feel great emotional distress or anxiety
- Feel you can’t cope with day-to-day life or work
- Think about suicide or self-harm
- Experience hallucinations and hearing voices.
A crisis can also be the result of an underlying medical condition.
For example, confusion or delusions caused by:
- An infection
- An overdose
- Illicit drugs
- Intoxication with alcohol.
Confusion may be a symptom of dementia.
How to look after your mental wellbeing
Social isolation, reduction in physical activity, unpredictability and changes in routine can all contribute to increasing stress. Many people including those without existing mental health needs may feel anxious about this impact, including support with daily living, ongoing care arrangements with health providers, support with medication and changes in their daily routines.
If you are receiving services for your mental health, learning disability or autism and are worried about the impact of isolation please contact your keyworker/care coordinator or provider to review your care plan. If you have additional needs please contact your key worker or care coordinator to develop a safety or contingency plan.
It is very easy to become anxious and lonely when you have to spend time on your own but remember, you can always pick up the phone and call a friend. For more information on minding your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak go to www.hse.ie. You can also call the Samaritans on Ph: 116 123.
At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse.
There are simple things you can do that may help to stay mentally and physically active during this time such as:
- Although you have been asked to stay at home it is important you keep yourself mobile by getting up and moving around as much as possible. If you have a garden or backyard, go out and get some fresh air but please keep away from other people including neighbours. Keeping a distance of at least 1 metre but where possible 2 metres (or 6.5 feet) from other people is recommended
- try spending time with the windows open to let in the fresh air, arranging space to sit and see a nice view (if possible) and get some natural sunlight
- spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to favourite radio programmes or watching TV
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs.
Useful resources for people self-isolating, or reducing social contact.
Staying at home and reducing social contact that we are used to can be really hard.
Remember that whilst things are uncertain at the moment, this situation will not last forever. If you are reducing your social contact, this is the right thing to do, no matter how hard. Acknowledge to yourself how difficult the situation is at the moment, but try to take care of yourself and find ways to cope with it.
Below are some examples of things that you might find helpful, but get creative and find what works for you. These websites and documents were not produced by HBF, but are just resources that are already available that we think might be helpful for you!
Tips for taking care of your physical and mental health wellbeing
- Coronavirus and Your Wellbeing, from Mind
- Coronavirus: How to Protect your mental health, from BBC News
- What to do if you are anxious or worried about coronavirus, from Anxiety Canada
- Coronavirus: 8 ways to look after your mental health, from Mental Health Europe
- Staying Well When Social Distancing from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists
- Headspace App: for the next few months, there will be a free section of this app called “Weathering the Storm”, which is free and available to everyone. It includes meditation, sleep and movement exercises.
- Coping With Stress from the World Health Organisation
- COVID-19 – Free mental health resources
- Physical Well-Being in Social Isolation, from Skype Clinical Psychologist
- Living Meaningfully in Social Isolation, from Skype Clinical Psychologist
- Social Connectivity in Social Isolation, from Skype Clinical Psychologist
- Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty from Psychology Tools
- Social Distancing Advice
- Anxiety Advice
- Joe Wicks, otherwise known as the ‘Body Coach’ will be doing free live exercise videos on YouTube for children (adult ones available too). They start 20th March at 9am. He’s also doing live evening ones for adults at 7pm – available on Instagram live stories too.
- There are arts and crafts, baking, educational and other printable resources and ideas on iChild and Sparklebox.
- Traveller COVID 19 sharing resources
- Roma COVID 19 sharing resources
- Migrant Health COVID 19 sharing resources
- Addiction COVID 19 sharing resources
- Homeless COVID 19 sharing resources
Resources for those isolated/cocooning
Supporting Online English Learning
https://www.interculturallanguageservice.com/student-links.html (for students themselves)
https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk/books/free-ebooks/ (English reading)
http://www.onestopenglish.com/ (for tutors)
https://www.scoilnet.ie/ (Education portal of DES - curriculum focused resources & support for primary & secondary teachers)