‘There is no scientific evidence that exposure to coronavirus alters your existing risk of infection.’ Photograph: iStock

Doctors, professors and consumer experts respond to your queries about Covid-19

Maureen Gaffney: ‘You can’t rely on other people to avoid you. It’s up to all of us to be aware’. Photograph: iStock

It’s not a time to assert your rights. Just protect yourself, says psychologist Maureen Gaffney

Secondary school students  have been advised by their teachers to maintain the timetables of their school days as much as possible. Photograph: iStock

Schools and academic institutions have issued advice on how to manage new routines

Regarded as Ireland’s national tree, oaks live for 200-250 years. Photograph: Getty Images

Identifying trees is a great way to enhance a walk during National Tree Week

 Ivan Carroll clears the ball as David Withero attempts to block during a soccer session at Kilmore West Recreational Centre, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Mental health services aim to close the gap in physical health for people with long-term conditions

All your behaviour in connection with coronavirus should be guided by the best health protocols to limit risk of infection to you or transmission to anyone else.  Hand-washing and social distance are two fundamentals.

Infection, travel, self-isolation, asthma, vaping, and the transmission of Covid-19

It’s difficult to know what to do when your children request play dates with their friends. Photograph: Getty Images

Depends who you ask. If you have children to play, there are certain rules you should follow

Chief executive of the HSE, Paul Reid, at a public briefing on winter flu and coronaviruis, also known as Covid-19. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Experts have tough job communicating evidence around policy issues such as Covid-19

Am I high risk? Should we clean packages? Can pets carry the virus? Are playdates safe? Does holding your breath work?

Covid-19: Handling money has a similar risk to contact with other materials – such as elevator buttons, door handles or bus poles – that are used by a large number of people. Photograph: iStock

Wash your hands, disinfect surfaces and avoid physical contact – even with family

Hormone replacement therapy treats symptoms of the menopause

Authority warns one brand of patches will be out of stock until May as demand increases

  Car Park at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

A comparison of Ireland’s hospital car parking rates

 Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. Ger Collins, an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland, says that car parking fees were an issue for her when she was attending the hospital for appointments and scans in 2015. Photograph: Derick Hudson

Many hospitals have yet to comply with HSE’s parking fee guidelines

St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, charges €2.50 for the first hour and €9.20 for four hours in the public hospital car park. File photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda has highest parking charge at €4 for one hour in their short-term car park

 North Staffordshire hospital: many hospitals in the UK don’t charge patients who have to travel by car parking fees. Photograph: Getty Images

Many UK hospitals offer free or daily capped rates for patients

Lemon juice  is a natural anti-septic

Washing your hands with soap and water the best way to help prevent the spread of infection

Joyce Stokes: “If I have a bad night’s sleep, the trembling becomes more frequent the next day.” Photograph: Shane Stokes

World Rare Diseases Day: Three people on how their unusual conditions affect their lives

Changing daily routines can help people distract themselves from the habit of smoking.

For Ash Wednesday, aka National No Smoking Day, here’s how to kick the habit

A gathering of 400  watching   the release of four grey seal pups back into the sea following their rehabilitation at Seal Rescue Ireland. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Crowd gathered on Co Wexford beach to witness the release of four grey seal pups back into the wild

More than just sleep, when awake we should set time aside to rest our minds and bodies

Psychologist Claudia Hammond examines the best ways to feel rested

‘Self-monitoring devises that track our health and fitness allow people to take ownership of their fitness and are part of the rise in individualised medicine in the 21st century,’ says Prof Niall Moyna of DCU.

The upsides are impressive but the downsides include obsessive behaviour and burnout

Jolene Cox (centre) and students Jessica Nwigwe (left) and Faith Idada at cookery class for parents in St Paul’s Secondary School, Greenhills, Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

At cookery instructor Jolene Cox’s classes, students learn that cooking a nutritious family meal – from press to plate – is far fr(...)

Oonagh Duggan

What do environmental groups want politicians to do to protect the natural world?

Members of the multi-disciplinary Imagining 2050 team.

A cross-disciplinary research team is working with communities impacted by extreme weather events on actions they can implement to(...)

Máirín Murphy and Ellen Ward, co-founders of Tech for Good Dublin. ‘There is a vibrant group of change-makers in Dublin who are advocates of a trustworthy and ethical approach to technology,’ says Ward

This global community offers free, tailored solutions to social and health problems

Wild Nephin. Photograph: Sam Birch

What exactly is rewilding and how can you be a part of it?

The Tilda study points to hearing loss leading to lower social participation, more loneliness and depressive symptoms – particularly in older men. Photograph: iStock

One in 12 people in Ireland will acquire a permanent hearing loss, experts estimate

As the group wanders through quieter parts of the National Botanic Gardens, the guide  encourages us to take deep breaths and exhale the toxins from our bodies.

Events focus on how connection to natural world can reduce stress, enhance well-being

Even making small changes can improve the way you look and feel

Four dietitians go beyond the usual advice on what to avoid, and focus on behaviour

Colin Dardis: ‘I struggled with my emotions and had difficulty engaging with people but I’ve always fallen back on writing poetry as a form of analysis’

Colin Dardis has lived with anxiety and panic attacks since his mid-teens but poetry has helped him cope

Informing the public about what to do to protect themselves from extreme weather events will become essential as flash floods, storms, cold snaps and heatwaves become more frequent. Photograph: Getty Images

The Climate Change Plan for the health sector contains advice on extreme weather events

Rachel Connell (centre), member of the ‘Voices Connect’ group from Mullingar Mental Health Association. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

A eight-week programme of singing and drumming workshops for people with mental health difficulties led to a significant improveme(...)

The average Irish home emits 58 per cent more energy-related carbon dioxide than the average EU dwelling. Photograph: Getty Images

Ireland has one of Europe’s worst records in burning fuel to heat our homes

Winter solstice lottery winners in the chamber at Newgrange on December 21st, 2017. Misty weather blocked the sunrise from entering the chamber. Photograph: Alan Betson

We celebrate winter solstice on December 21st. But that’s not always accurate

Derek Cullen has found that sharing his experiences through videos became an empowering thing to do as people got behind him. Photograph: Brian Reilly Troy

Derek Cullen’s spiral of self-destruction led to an unconventional but satisfying life path

 Galway Educate Together National School pupils Noah Mungoma and Annette Nhani try out some Greyfox Design school seating on display during the 21st Century Schools conference at NUI Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Well-designed classrooms can improve learning in key subjects by up to 16%

Bluetit. Photograph: Brian Burke

Birdwatch Ireland needs your help to track the bird population and disease prevalence

Oesophageal cancer, 3D illustration showing malignant tumour in the human oesophagus

About 430 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in Ireland every year

 Mark Pollock (L) and Jennifer Hester (R) Dublin. A chance meeting with Pollock at DCU led to Hester trying out an exoskeleton, a robotic frame strapped to the body which enables movement. Photograph: Julien Behal

Left paralysed from chest down after brain surgery, Jennifer Hester can now walk short distances using crutches

A stream at the Sally Gap in Co Wicklow. Run-off from agricultural fertilisers, pesticides and slurry and sediment from soil erosion are the dominant pollutants in small streams across Ireland

A research project into Irish streams will find out where pollutants enter the water courses and will work with landowners to prev(...)

Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

An citizen science initiative is examining ways to protect the vulnerable dunes

‘We are also taking a chance and thus are open to the possibility of betrayal. There is a leap of faith in trust.’

Astrophysicist and philosopher run the rule over what precisely makes experts reliable

  Prof Shane O’Mara (TCD), Prof Roger O’Sullivan (Institute of Public Health), and Vanda Cummins (HSE) at the Institute of Public Health conference on physical activity in older people in Dublin. Photograph: Justin Farrelly

‘Strong older people fall and get back up while weak older people fall and stay down’

An exhibit at Plastic: Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It, at Dublin’s Science Gallery. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

A new exhibition draws public attention to our complex relationship with plastic

Leo von Buenau, Maedhbh Ní Chumhaill, Emily Longworth and Kiki Needham with their bikes for the Green-Schools #andshecycles campaign. Photograph: Ste Murray

An Taisce starts campaign after discovering only one in 250 girls cycle to school

Naomi Donaldson, Ellen McEvoy, Moira McLoughlin and Deirdre Daly at the launch of Messages for Mothers. Photograph: Mark Monahan

An online course reveals all about everything from pelvic girdle pain to depression

Developers ‘need to go out early to talk to people about their plans’

Time for capital to look at co-housing and co-living, event told

Keith Byrne, who was diagnosed with MS at the age of 31, with his wife Michelle with son Oliver.Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

‘It was even a shock to my doctor when the diagnosis of MS came back,’ says Keith Byrne

Autumn oak in Donadea, Co Kildare: Our fascination with trees is not just because they are objects of beauty but because they are “living beings that breathe and grow and struggle to survive and recreate just as we do ourselves”.

Prior to modern green thinking, mythology surrounded the identity of ancient Irish trees

‘I recommend all families keep a hopefulness jar filled with post-it notes with suggested things to do to make everyone feel better.’ Photograph: iStock

‘Keep the lines of communication open, demystify the illness and take the scariness out’

Beth Francis in the throes of a migraine attack. ‘It’s difficult when your partner is vivacious, full of life, witty, clever, charming and brilliant and then is catatonic with pain and you don’t know when the next one will be,’ says her partner

By the time Beth Francis was in her twenties she was having up to 28 migraines a month

Sisters Linda Jones and Jane Gantley were diagnosed with breast cancer within a year of each other. Photograph: Alan Betson

When Jane Gantley was diagnosed with breast cancer, the support of her sister Linda, who was just finishing treatment for the dise(...)

Forest bathing: an increasingly popular wellness practice that may help prevent ill-health. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

‘It’s all about connecting with nature, slowing down and getting into your body’

Bumblebee Farm’s collaboration with chef Eddie Attwell has been a match made in heaven. Photograph: John Daly/Inspire Group

Bumblebee Flower Farm supplies edible blooms for creative chefs across Ireland

Over 90 per cent of those authorised for medical cannabis in the United States are recreational users, according to author Alex Berenson. Photograph: iStock

Berenson says there are almost no medical benefits of cannabis in randomised controlled trials

Sea kayaking at Reen Pier, Union Hall, west Cork at  twilight. Photograph: Emma Jervis

A restorative day of paddling around Sherkin Island and Roaringwater Bay off west Cork

The most accurate land-cover maps for Ireland come from a pan European dataset produced by member states for the European Environment Agency.

Experts agree that accurate information among best ways to make policy decisions

Culture Night offers the chance to try some yoga at various venues around the country. Photograph: iStock

Health and wellbeing venues around the country will host workshops, music, films and debate on everything from sustainable food pr(...)

David Williamson.

Two young men talk about their challenges on the road from addiction to recovery

People with chronic pain should learn what kinds of movements they can do without triggering a flare-up in pain. Photograph: iStock

To best manage such pain, stress, sleep and work life must be taken into account

Charlotte Salter-Townshend,  who devised the new walks,  will focus on the geographical origins of plants and the role some played in the development of slavery and international trading routes

Guided walks include an exploration of the plants whose trade played a role in the rise and fall of empires

One way of better managing your use of a smartphone is to leave it in another room before you go to bed. Photograph: Getty Images

People’s dependence on their devices can contribute to range of more serious problems

 Irish wildflower expert Sandro Cafolla in the wildflower meadow in Cabinteely Park, Co Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Sandro Cafolla gives talks on how best to introduce wildflowers in parks and gardens

Climate crisis: people cool off by the Eiffel Tower in Paris in July. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Scientists and doctors unite in call to act on climate change to protect human health

Healthy heritage: Derek Whelan and Peter Clarke, who will lead walks along the Grand and Royal Canals in Dublin for National Heritage Week. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

From whale-watching to bell-ringing, there’s something for everyone

Some of the athletes who will compete at the World Transplant Games, from left: Anna Anna Pokojska, Aodhagan Cullen, Mike Keohane, Mary Fitzgerald, Rachel Eagleton and Thomas Flannery.

For the 38-strong Irish team preparing to take part in the World Transplant Games, their organ donors are very much on their minds

John Cregan with Patsy, left, and Mary Cregan at the 2018 GAA Hurling All Ireland medal presentation to Limerick at Adare Manor Hotel in Limerick. Photograph: Diarmuid Greene

When nurse Mary Cregan was dying of a brain tumour, her family took great comfort from the support of the Irish Cancer Society’s n(...)

Sorely missed: Kate Holmquist in 2013. Photograph: Alan Betson

The late Irish Times journalist’s gift was to ‘recognise the power of people’s stories’

The setting sun while kayaking off Howth harbour.

‘The evening will stand out as one of the most enjoyable things I’ve had done this summer’

Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard wrote, ‘every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness’. Photograph: iStock

Prof Shane O’Mara lives his life on his feet and has dedicated a new book to the topic

From left: Tonya Myles, Emilia Marchelewska, Junyu Wang and Juljia. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Health advocacy organisation Cairde has launched a new website to introduce the different Irish health services to newcomers to th(...)

World champion canoeist Jenny Egan was one of the speakers at the Sport Ireland event. Photograph: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Sport Ireland event aims to empower teenage girls in training and competitions

The Tusla Child and Family agency offers a list of tips to parents

A complaint about a creche can be investigated through Tusla

Clodagh Kelly and Katie Harrington, aka 'Climate Queens', only buy second-hand clothing, or swap items with friends. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

The clothing industry is one of the most polluting in the world, but how can we slow it down?

While helmets make cycling safer in places where accidents are more likely or when cycling as a sport, people who cycle in cities where cycling is the norm rarely wear helmets for short journeys.

Women on Wheels call for segregated cycling routes as only way to foster ‘inclusive cycling’

Kay Redfield Jamison: ‘We need more people – doctors, lawyers and other professionals – to talk about their experiences of living with bipolar disorder.’

American psychiatrist and writer Kay Redfield Jamison has been open about sharing her experiences of mania and depression and want(...)

John Lewis-Stempel: ‘If you farm with wildlife in mind, and drop the chemicals, you can actually get more productivity but do less harm to the soil and the environment generally. We have only about 100 harvests left if we don’t take care of our soil.’

Nature-writer and farmer John Lewis-Stempel is on a mission to prove that farming the old-fashioned way is not only kind to wildli(...)

Prof Dan Siegel (left), Senator Frances Black, Mary Lovegrove and Michael Griffith from Mindful Nation Ireland, and UK MP Chris Ruane

‘We spend too much time rushing from one thing to another’: Why TDs and Senators could benefit from daily meditation

Award-winning children’s author, Michael Morpurgo says that children have got to feel that nature belongs to them if they are to love and protect it.

Author Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare are founders of the Farms for City Children charity

Aimed at all ages – from babies to grannies -  it will transform the beautiful yet compact grounds of the 18th Century stately home.  Photograph: Ruth Medjber

What’s on, tickets, weather, times and transport for the family-friendly summer festival in west Wicklow

The new family room at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin.

The Design & Dignity programme by the Irish Hospice Foundation provides comfortable rooms in acute hospitals for families of dying(...)

ESRI study found  job stress  doubled from 8% in 2010 to 17% in 2015. Photograph: iStock

Wellness programmes and life skills classes are some of the coping measures

Martha Hickey,  professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Australian professor in Dublin to discuss infertility, early menopause and sexual problems

Prof Tom Curran, AgroCycle project co-ordinator and assistant professor in Biosystems and Food Engineering at University College Dublin with an ‘edible straw’ and drinking cup made from potato pulp. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography.

An international study, led by UCD researchers, created food and packaging prototypes from agricultural and food-processing waste

The Bee Bandits cycle in Dublin city centre. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

A group of older cyclists are at large in the capital, scattering seed bombs in their wake

Forbidden fruit: the music festival takes over Royal Hospital Kilmainham this weekend. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

From Bloom and Cat Laughs to Táin hillwalks and marine-themed festivals

The psychology department at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin

Mental health should be sixth vital sign in hospitals, says Dr Paul D'Alton

Memories Are Made of This, the dementia awareness show garden at Bloom in the Park

Garden design is about offering people the opportunity to let their minds return to their childhood gardens

A fox on the grounds of the Garda office on Harcourt Street, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

With a population of up to 200,000, Ireland’s only wild dogs live in all parts of the country

The international AEA organization developed when a group decided they needed to address all substance addictions in their lives and not just food. Photograph: iStock

God, drugs, alcohol and eating disorders discussed at Addictive Eaters Anonymous

In Ireland 32 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions  come from agriculture. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Gathering in Co Wicklow discusses challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Director of the Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism Niamh Rice presents the results of the first Irish study of the nutritional needs of Irish cancer patients.

Patients who lose weight have lower survival rates yet very few are given nutritional information and support

More than 95 per cent of TB cases are in developing countries including India, China, Russia, Indonesia and South Africa. Photograph: Shammi Mehra/AFP/Getty Images

With four million cases of TB going undiagnosed around the world each year, healthcare professionals are committed to improving de(...)

Bamburgh Castle was once the seat of Northumbria’s kings. Photograph: Des Fox

The northern county’s spectacular scenery includes beaches, islands and many castles

Family fun in St Dominic’s Park, Drogheda,  1-5pm, Monday

Dress up as a nun, swim the Shannon, listen for a corncrake or take in some jazz

The sun rises to dispel the fog in rural Tipperary. “Our ancestors woke up to birdsong and light,” says Niall Hatch of Birdwatch Ireland.

Derek Mooney’s Dawn Chorus programme will once again share the treat with radio listeners

Dr Frates: “It’s all about having a peaceful mind, a joyful heart and healthy body”

Dr Beth Frates’s five steps for doctors to prescribe lifestyle changes to patients

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