It can be hard to sort fact from fiction when it comes to Covid-19. Infectious disease expert Professor Martin Cormican appeared on RTÉ's Liveline with Joe Duffy to answer questions from worried callers.
Professor Cormican - the HSE's Clinical Lead for Infection Control - gave detailed advice to listeners on everything from sleeping arrangements to the death of a loved one.
All the Liveline questions and answers can be read below.
When a loved one has died, how long does Covid-19 live in their body?
The risk of the spread of the virus when it is leaving the body reduces sharply when someone dies. The virus will only grow and live in me if I am living. Once I stop living, this stops too.
Before a coffin is closed, can I kiss the forehead of a loved one?
We would advise against that. The compromise might be that if someone touches the remains and then cleans their hands the risk of spread is low. But putting your mouth to the remains I would advise against because how of how this virus gets in. This virus cannot get through your skin, but it can get in through your eyes, nose or mouth.
Should I wear gloves?
Some people think that by wearing gloves we won't transmit the virus. But if we are wearing gloves and we touch off a table where the virus is, then the virus is going to be on those gloves, which could then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. So wearing gloves in all situations actually is not that important and they are often a distraction from cleaning your hands and then keeping your hands from your face.
Should I sleep with my partner?
We don't recommend that two people living in the same house should self-isolate if they are both well. You may choose to reduce/suspend physical contact with your partner but I don't think this is necessary. The amount of risk it reduces is very, very small. But that is everyone's choice.
Bearing in mind the social distancing measures, am I putting myself at a greater risk by going to the hairdressers?
If you have an appointment with your hairdresser, ring ahead and ask if he/she is feeling unwell? You can also ask if they are implementing good hygiene habits. The same principles apply to reduce your risk. Minimise the things you touch, apply good hand hygiene and reduce touching of your eyes, nose and mouth.
I have an autoimmune condition, am I at a greater risk of getting Covid-19?
A person with an autoimmune condition can get infected in the same way as everyone else does. That is, if the virus goes into their eyes, nose or mouth. One thing you can do to reduce your risk is by following all of the hygiene guidelines but doing them even more carefully. You can minimise your risk by reducing the amount of exposure you have with people outside your home.
Are children superspreaders?
The term 'superspreader' can be used for a person whom public health doctors, in the course of their contact tracing, have identified as a person who seems to have infected a very large number of people. But why someone can be called a superspreader can be complicated. They either shed very large levels of virus, or they infect a large number of people because of the way they behave. They could be shedding the virus by not covering their cough or their nose if they sneeze. We do not know that all children are superspreaders. Fortunately, if children get the virus they are most likely to get a mild disease. But there is no magic answer about whether or not to interact with that child. If you are very concerned you could choose not to have physical contact, but instead used video apps to maintain close contact.
Can I go to a gym?
If you are going to a gym with good hygiene standards then your risk of contracting the virus is low. If the gym management is asking people if they are well before they come in through the door, then that risk is even lower. If going to the gym is important to you for your health and mental wellbeing then go to a gym with good hygiene standards and one that is policing to prevent members that are unwell from coming in. Same principles apply, keep one metre distance, and minimise touch of surfaces and your eyes, nose and mouth.
What temperature is a fever?
38 degrees Celsius or above is a fever.
What percentage of people who have coronavirus need to be hospitalised?
If you have the virus but are relatively well, then you don't have to be treated in hospital. Estimates suggest that at least 15 percent of people who contract Covid-19 will require hospitalisation; about one in five to one in six, but this only an estimation.
Should I have contact with my grandchildren?
If you have children coming to see you then you should check if they are unwell before they come. They should not come to see you if they are at all unwell. If they are feeling well and they come to see you, get them to wash their hands when they come in to your home. You may want to consider minimising physical contact by using video apps to keep in touch.
Can I go into a swimming pool if I am immunosuppressed?
The actual activity of swimming in the pool will be the activity that will pose the lowest risk. The heavily chlorinated water will certainly kill the virus. The risk to you will be the time before you get in and the after you get out of the water. The principle of keeping your contact with others, and the number of surfaces you touch, to a minimum, and minimise touch to your eyes, nose and mouth. If you are immunosuppressed you are at no higher risk of getting the virus but if you do get it, then your risk of getting a severe disease is higher. If you are going to get sick, you are going to get sick within a week to 14 days.
Can the virus be transmitted through sweat?
We do not see sweat as important in terms of virus spread, to any significant degree. This virus is spread through touch and secretions from your eyes, nose and mouth. The biggest risk in a gym is probably through contact and touching surfaces.
Covid-19 is not an airborne virus. Why is this important?
There is a big distinction between airborne viruses and droplet viruses. Measles is the most infectious virus because it is airborne. If I have measles and I am in a room where air is circulating then everyone (who is not immune) will get it because it is spread through the air. Covid-19 is a droplet virus, so relatively big droplets have to fall on to surfaces for the virus to be transmitted to another person.
If someone has travelled into Ireland from another country, do they pose a risk to us here?
Once someone has been in Ireland for two weeks, that is the incubation period, then the risk they pose is the same as the risk associated with that community, NOT where the person travelled from. If they had the virus coming into Ireland, then it should have shown up in two weeks.
Can the virus be spread on food? If a chef sneezes on my food and he has Covid-19, can I get it?
The virus is more likely to spread if he/she sneezes on your on your salad than on your hot food.
The coronavirus is vulnerable to heat, so freshly prepared hot food, served hot, poses very little risk of transmitting anything.
Should I handle money/coins?
The usual principles apply - the fewer items you touch, the lower the risk. It is likely to pose a lower risk if you pay with card rather than handle coins or paper money.
Can I go to the cinema?
Remember the principle, the smaller the group, the smaller the risk. Outdoor activities pose a lower risk than indoor activities because there are fewer surfaces where the virus can live. Make sure that all in the group wash their hands when they are done. Being outdoors poses a small risk, which can be made even lower if people stay within their own family group.
How long can the virus live on towels?
The virus can live on a towel for a period of time, generally hours rather than days. The rule of thumb is that the towel should be cleaned once a day or every second day.
Should I have a child's party?
As with any party, you should check with everyone who is attending if they are feeling well. If they're not, they should not come. They owe you the courtesy of not sending child or coming themselves if they are feeling unwell. To reduce the risk you can ask all attending to be careful about hand hygiene. If you go with your family group, stay within that family group if you can. Children may pose a greater risk because they may not be as conscientious about covering their coughs and sneezes.
I'm a childminder in my own home with children from three or more different families. Should I be minding them?
The service you are providing is a really important one, so you have to weigh up the risk with how badly you want to continue providing this service. To do this safely, you can encourage children to be careful about hand hygiene. If a child is unwell, he/she shouldn't be there. And remember the smaller the group, the smaller the risk.
Can I catch Covid-19 twice?
This is difficult to confirm because this virus is new, and we don't know enough about it yet. But this virus is from the family of corona viruses, and a lot of common colds are caused by corona viruses. Like with a common cold, if you recover from Covid-19, as most people will, then your body will have produced antibodies which mean you are less likely to get it again and if you do it is probably likely to be less severe.
Should I wear a mask?
Masks are not magic. They have a role to play in a healthcare setting but unless someone is close enough to cough in your face, then wearing a mask is neither here nor there.