Health

IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING COVID-19

The Irish government have announced a phased reduction of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. You can find out more information here. Below is a summary of all five phases and the dates which they are expected to begin:

PHASE 1 (18TH MAY)

  • Small groups of up to 4 people can meet outdoors provided they keep 2 metres apart
  • Schools and colleges will be open for access to teachers only.
  • Childcare workers will be able to provide childcare for the children of essential healthcare workers in the healthcare worker’s home.
  • A return to work for outdoor workers (e.g. construction, gardeners) will be allowed subject to strict social distancing requirements.
  • Remote working will continue for all workers that are able to do so.
  • Outdoor shops such as hardware stores and garden centres can open
  • Indoor shops previously open in Tier 2 (opticians, office supplies, electrical, phone sales) can now open
  • Outdoor spaces and tourism sites (car parks, beaches, mountain walks etc.) where people can move freely and social distance can be maintained are now open
  • Public sports facilities (golf courses, tennis courses, pitches etc.) can be opened subject to strict social distancing measures
  • People can exercise on their own or in groups of no more than 4 people
  • Restriction and monitoring of numbers on public and private transport
  • The maximum travel limit has increased from 2km to 5 km.

Despite the easing of restrictions, public health policy still recommends to stay at home as much as possible and avoid all unnecessary journeys.

PHASE 2 (8TH JUNE)

  • Short visits to other households for up to 4 people
  • Slightly larger number of funeral attendees but still only immediate family and close friends
  • Public libraries can re-open
  • Small retail outlets and marts where social distancing can be observed can open
  • Remote working will continue for all workers that are able to do so.
  • Team sport training can resume in small groups subject to social distancing
  • Restriction and monitoring of numbers on public and private transport
  • The maximum travel limit has increased from 5km to 20km.

Similarly to Phase 1, public health policy still recommends to stay at home as much as possible and avoid all unnecessary journeys.

PHASE 3 (29TH JUNE)

  • Phased opening of creches and pre-schools for children of essential workers
  • Return to work for those with low levels of interaction
  • Remote working will continue for all workers that are able to do so.
  • Opening of non-essential retail stores with street-level access
  • Opening of playgrounds subject to social distancing
  • A phased lifting of hospital and residential home visiting restrictions
  • “Behind closed doors” sporting events are permitted
  • Opening of cafés and restaurants providing on-premises food & beverages subject to strict social distancing and hygiene standards
  • Restrictions on numbers travelling to and in major urban centres

PHASE 4 (20TH JULY)

  • Travel outside of your region is now allowed
  • Phased opening of creches, childminders and pre-schools for all
  • return to work for those who cannot work from home
  • Remote working will continue for all workers that are able to do so.
  • Gradual easing of restrictions for higher risk services (e.g. Hairdressers)
  • Opening of museums, galleries, places of worship subject to social distancing
  • Small social gatherings limited to a maximum number of attendees for a limited period of time where social distancing can be  maintained (e.g. small weddings, baptisms)
  • Opening of hotels, hostels, caravan parks, holiday parks for social and tourist activities initially on a limited occupancy basis

PHASE 5 (10TH AUGUST)

  • Allowance of larger social gatherings subject to social distancing
  • Opening of primary and secondary schools and 3rd level institutions on a phased basis commencing at the beginning of the academic year 2020/2021
  • A return to normal visiting in hospitals and residential care centres
  • Phased return to work across all sectors
  • Remote working will continue for all workers that are able to do so.
  • Easing of restrictions on higher risk services (e.g. shopping centres, tattoo parlours)
  • Opening of cinemas, indoor recreational areas (e.g. bowling), bars, restaurants and nightclubs. All subject to social distancing and hygiene policies.
  • Gyms, sports clubs and exercise studios will open subject to social distancing.

The criteria for progressing from one phase of restrictions to another are:

  • Progress of disease
  • Testing and contact tracing
  • Healthcare capacity
  • Shielding at risk groups
  • Secondary morbidity and mortality

Health Information

The HSE have developed a public information booklet which contains information on (symptoms, treatment, social distancing and self-isolation). If you develop symptoms related to coronavirus, contact your GP immediately

Other Useful Resources in Arabic:

During these challenging times, it is important to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health. The HSE have also compiled a list of mental health contacts and resources to help deal with the effects of coronavirus. IOM Ireland have also created an information sheet related to coping emotionally with the coronavirus pandemic. This sheet is available in many languages including Arabic

Other Affected Areas of Living

The coronavirus outbreak has affected many other areas across society. Some useful information can be found in the links below:
Social Welfare
Managing Your Finances
Employment Rights
Renting Rights

Healthcare rights

Ireland has a 2-tier health service with public and private services available. You are entitled to receive public health services if you are living in Ireland, or intend to live here for at least one year. This is known as being ordinarily resident in Ireland. Public health services are supported by the state and delivered by the Health Service Executive (HSE). If you are ordinarily resident in Ireland you can access healthcare in Europe.

How can I access healthcare?

The HSE provides health services to all people in hospitals, health facilities and communities across Ireland. The first point of contact for community health services is your local health office. These offices provide a wide range of services including family doctor services, child health services, eye care, physiotherapy, speech therapy, counselling and psychiatric services.

You may be entitled to a medical card which entitles you to free healthcare across a range of services (doctor visits, dental care, eye care and more). Your eligibility for this medical card is based on your means. If you are not eligible for a medical card, you may be entitled to a GP Visit card which gives you free doctor visits.

Available Services

Primary healthcare 

In Ireland, primary care refers to all health and social care services that you can find in your community outside of hospitals. Primary care is provided mainly by general practitioners (GPs) or in community health centres in towns and villages around Ireland. Primary care services include:

  • GP Service
  • Community Nurse Service
  • Home Care Attendant Service
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Social Work Service
  • Speech and Language Therapy

Emergency

There are 29 emergency departments (EDs) across Ireland. Some of these departments will only treat adult patients. You should attend EDs in the case of serious emergencies including accidents, injuries or in cases where your life may be threatened. EDs are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To receive treatment, you can visit the EDs directly or call 112/999 free of charge to request the Ambulance Service. When speaking to an Emergency Call Taker over the phone it is important that you remain calm and follow their instructions.

Specialist

Specialist health care services will always require an appointment. Your own doctor usually must refer you to an appropriate specialist if they assess that you require further examination. Depending on the specialist you need, there may be long waiting times to visit them. If you visit a private specialist, the waiting time is usually much shorter.

You can access dental services through a private dentist. You will need to arrange an appointment yourself. If you have a valid medical card, you can access many services for free but you should always check with your dentist before receiving these services. Children aged 15 years or younger are entitled to free dental care through the HSE Dental Clinics. This service is accessed through schools.

The HSE provides a range of services for people with disabilities and those who care for them including home help, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy.

The HSE also provides a full range of services aimed at women’s health which addresses pregnancy, domestic abuse, female genital mutilation and many other issues.

Mental health services are also widely available through face to face contact, telephone and online services provided by the HSE. Some NGOs (such as Spirasi) offer services which works with refugees who have experienced significant mental trauma. Your doctor can refer you to these organisations if requested. 

Where can I get medicine?

You will to visit a pharmacy to get medicine. There are over 1500 pharmacies in Ireland. All pharmacies are staffed by healthcare professionals who can give you information about treatments and offer advice on use of medication. Although some medication can be bought directly from pharmacies, most medication requires a written prescription from a family doctor. Pharmacies also provide other services such as flu vaccinations.

To find your nearest pharmacy visit here

How can I find a doctor?

A family doctor is known as General Practitioner (GP). GPs are normally the first doctor you will see about a health problem. GPs are private healthcare providers and usually charge for a visit. However, your visit will be free if you have a Medical Card or GP Visit Card. Some GPs will call to your home if you are sick and others will arrange night and weekend services. GPs will also refer you to consultants for specialist treatment.

You can find your nearest GP by contacting your nearest Health Centre or visiting the Find a GP service .

Health Insurance

You may wish to get private health insurance if you wish to receive private healthcare from hospitals or other private health practices. There are a wide range of companies who provide voluntary health insurance in Ireland. These companies provide a wide range of health care cover depending on your needs and means to pay. The Health Insurance Authority (HIA) regulates the health insurance industry in Ireland.