Q&A: Everything you need to know about the new Covid-19 advice

Q&A: Everything you need to know about the new Covid-19 advice

Pictured is HSE CEO Paul Reid speaking to media in Dr Steevens Hospital today at the weekly HSE operational update on the response to Covid-19. Photograph: Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland

The HSE and the Department of Health have clarified the very latest Covid-19 advice, covering what to do in a range of scenarios.

These include the recommended course of action if you have symptoms, have a positive PCR or antigen test result, or are a close contact of a confirmed case.

The Department of Health has said that newest changes made to existing advice “are framed in light of available evidence, expert views and the international experience of Covid-19, including the recently published guidance from ECDC”.

“While we are reducing the requirement to self-isolate and restrict movements for cases and close contacts respectively, we are strengthening guidance relating to mask wearing and reduced social contact for the full ten days following diagnosis or last known close contact,” it was added.

Those of any age who have recovered from Covid-19 following a positive PCR or antigen test carried out since December 1 2021 are not required to restrict movements or test unless they become symptomatic, in which case they should immediately self-isolate, get tested and wear a mask as appropriate.

Here’s everything you need to know depending on your situation:


I have symptoms of Covid-19 

Immediately self-isolate.

Those aged 0-3 and over 39 years old and all healthcare workers should seek a PCR test.

Everyone aged 4-39 should use repeated antigen tests.

Any positive result should be registered with the HSE - a PCR confirmation is not required.

If you have an underlying health condition, talk to your GP by phone.

Continue to self-isolate until 48 hours after symptoms have substantially or fully resolved, regardless of antigen results.

All those aged 13 years and older with symptoms should use a well-fitted medical grade or FFP2 face mask, including around household members.

Children aged 9-12 years old with symptoms should do the same, but a regular mask is fine.

Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Victoria Jones/PA Wire

I have a positive test result 

Those without symptoms should isolate for a minimum of seven days from the date of positive test (antigen or PCR).

Those with symptoms should isolate for seven days from the date of onset of symptoms.

Self-isolation after seven days can end if symptoms have substantially or fully resolved for the final two of those seven days.

Those over 13 should use a well-fitted medical grade or FFP2 face mask for 10 days, including around household members.

Children aged 9-12 should wear a regular mask for 10 days including around household members.

What to do during isolation:

Limit close contact with people outside the household.

Wear an appropriate face mask in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces and when in close contact with other people. 

Avoid contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness follow all public health protective measures. 

Close contacts:

The period of restricted movements for close contacts applies from the date of last contact with positive case if known or, if not, from the date of notification as a contact.

For 10 days, all close contacts (regardless of age, vaccination status or PCR or antigen results) must:

  • Limit close contact with people outside their household.
  • Take an antigen test and wear an appropriate face mask when going to crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces and when in contact with other people.
  • Boosted refers to those who are more than seven days post their booster vaccine or who have completed their primary vaccination course and had infection in the past three months.

Darragh Yeates aged 18 gets his Vaccine from Margaret O'Sullivan. Photo By : Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD .
Darragh Yeates aged 18 gets his Vaccine from Margaret O'Sullivan. Photo By : Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD .

I am an asymptomatic close contact, aged 13 and older, AND boosted 

Use a well-fitted medical grade or FFP2 face mask for 10 days.

Take regular antigen tests over seven days, with the last test on day seven.

There is no requirement to restrict movement.

I am a close contact, aged 13 and older, and NOT boosted 

Use a well-fitted medical grade or FFP2 face mask for 10 days and restrict movements for seven days.

Take regular antigen tests over seven days, with the last test on day seven.

I am a close contact, aged 13 and older, who is not vaccinated 

Use a well-fitted medical grade or FFP2 face mask for 10 days and restrict movements for seven days.

Take regular antigen tests over seven days, with the last test on day seven.

I am a close contact aged 12 or under, who is a household contact of a confirmed case 

Wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days, including when around household members.

Restrict movements for seven days.

Children aged 4-12 should take regular antigen tests over seven days, with the last test on day seven.

Those aged 0-3 should only take a PCR test if they are symptomatic.

A worker at the Dundalk Stadium COVID-19 drive through test centre prepares to give a PCR test.
A worker at the Dundalk Stadium COVID-19 drive through test centre prepares to give a PCR test.

I am a non-household close contact aged 12 or under

Wear a well fitted mask for 10 days, including around household members.

No restriction of movement is necessary unless symptoms appear.

No testing necessary unless symptoms appear.

Asymptomatic children who are school/childcare pod contacts of cases will still be offered antigen testing.

I am a vulnerable person – how do I protect myself?

The close contact rules apply to all people, including those who may be vulnerable.

Like everyone, you should:

  • Get your vaccine/booster 
  • Wear the mask recommended for you 
  • Maintain distance from others 
  • Meet outside if possible 
  • Avoid crowds 
  • Open windows and avoid poorly ventilated spaces 
  • Clean your hands

I have a vulnerable person in my household – do the close contact rules change in this instance?

The close contact rules apply to all people, including those who may be vulnerable.

Antigen tests are being sent out by the HSE to those with symptoms and close contacts
Antigen tests are being sent out by the HSE to those with symptoms and close contacts

What does this mean for work?

People should work from home unless it is necessary to attend in person.

What is a medical grade mask?

A three-layered, disposable mask.

The masks are typically blue or white coloured, labelled as ‘medical’ and carry a CE marking.

These masks are widely available to purchase in retail outlets.

What is a respirator/FFP2 mask?

A multi-layered mask and has similar filtration values as a medical grade mask.

Respirators provide a tight fit around the wearer’s face and are particularly effective against aerosol transmission.

FFP2 Masks from healthwave.ie
FFP2 Masks from healthwave.ie

If a respirator, or any face mask, is loose fitting or not worn correctly, it will not offer the same level of protection.

These masks are widely available to purchase in retail outlets.

Will the Government provide antigen tests for close contacts?

Yes, if you are deemed to be a close contact or have Covid-19 symptoms the HSE will provide you with free antigen tests.

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