Citizens Information website changed to clarify Covid-19 advice

Website had said people with symptoms no longer had to self-isolate after negative result

The website, widely used by the public for information about State services, had incorrectly stated that people who test negative for Covid-19 ‘do not have to self-isolate any longer’

The Citizens Information Board has changed guidance on its website that advised people with Covid-19 symptoms they no longer needed to self-isolate after a negative test result.

The Board made the change to after being contacted by the Health Service Executive, which had been asked by The Irish Times to clarify the requirement for self-isolation for people undergoing tests for the virus.

The website, which is widely used by the public for information about State services, had stated that people who test negative for Covid-19 “do not have to self-isolate any longer”.

In contrast, HSE guidance says contacts of cases who are tested “must stay at home (for 14 days) even if the test says you do not have Covid-19”.


People who recently came to Ireland and who have to restrict their movements should continue to do so even if they test negative, the Citizens Information website went on to advise.

However, following contact from the HSE, the website was changed last Friday and now advises people who test negative for the virus: “If you had symptoms of Covid-19, you should stop self-isolating only if:

• You have had no fever for 5 days and

• It has been 14 days since you first developed symptoms”.

The advice requiring incoming travellers to the State to self-isolate for 14 days remains unchanged.

During last month's controversy involving Phil Hogan, the former EU Commissioner cited advice from Citizens Information as the reason he ended his quarantine early.

However, Citizens Information issued a statement saying the reference on its website to people “no longer requiring to self-isolate was in the context of people who have been tested on the advice of the HSE” and did not apply to those who have to restrict their movement for 14 days upon entry to the State.

Contacted by The Irish Times, the HSE said close contacts of a cases are tested on day 0 and day 7 “even if both tests are negative they have to ‘restrict their movement’ (not self-isolate, only a positive case self-isolates) for 14 days”.

“It is incorrect to stop restricting your movement if you are notified as being a close contact of a confirmed case. Even if you have no symptoms and even if your test (or both tests) come back negative, you have to continue to restrict your movements for 14 days.

“It can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up in your system after you have been exposed to it. Restricting your movement for 14 days will stop you unknowingly spreading the virus to others.”

Some exceptions to the 14-rule apply to healthcare workers only, it said.

People who require testing due to symptoms are advised a negative result “does not mean that you never had coronavirus. It just means that the virus was not found in the sample the lab tested”.

“You should continue to follow the advice to protect yourself and others.

“If your symptoms continue or get worse, phone your GP,” the advice continues.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.