"No one should feel any kind of blame if they contract Covid-19," a doctor has said as people are urged not to keep quiet if they are experiencing any symptoms of the coronavirus.

Dr Sumi Dunne said Covid-19 is a highly infectious virus and doctors do not want people to keep quiet if they are experiencing symptoms or feel they may have been in contact with someone who has contracted the virus.

Her call comes as SIPTU has told politicians that it believes some healthcare workers did not declare symptoms of Covid-19 to their employers because they were worried about losing overtime and premiums if they were put on leave.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the Laois-based GP said anyone with symptoms should contact their doctor and the virus will not stop just because people are outside.

Dr Dunne said all necessary precautions - such as social distancing, hand hygiene and cough etiquette - must remain in place.

Dr Dunne said there is an overlap between the common cold, the 'flu and Covid-19 and anyone who develops symptoms should contact their GP to organise a test, so the coronavirus can be ruled out.

She said there had been a slight increase in people presenting in the last few weeks since the easing of restrictions but this is understandable because "we are naturally social creatures and people want to mix and integrate". 

She urged people to download the Covid-19 track and trace app to their phone and update daily with symptoms.

Dr Dunne said that more people need to download and use the app so that more information can be collated.

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The Health Service Executive says that common symptoms of the coronavirus include:

  • a fever (high temperature - 38C or above)
  • a cough - this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste - this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Meanwhile, a senior lecturer in Biochemistry and Cell Biology in UCC has described a coronavirus vaccine trial finding as one that is "good to see".

The first trial among more than 1,000 adults in Britain found that the vaccine induced "strong antibody and T cell immune responses" against the novel coronavirus.

Dr Anne Moore said it is positive and exciting to see such strong responses, adding it is the strongest T cell response to be reported.

She said hopefully there will multiple options of vaccines and that some will prove to protect against the new coronavirus.

Dr Moore said it looks like the antibody response decreases fairly rapidly after infection, but that depends of the severity of infection.

She said that scientist are reliant on high transmission levels in order to test potential vaccines so "vaccine manufacturers are chasing around the world looking for new places" to carry out trials.

A separate trial in China involving more than 500 people showed most had developed widespread antibody immune response.

The studies, published in The Lancet medical journal, constitute a major step on the road towards a Covid-19 vaccine that is effective and safe for widespread use.