COVID-19: What You Should Know

What is COVID-19?

Corona viruses are a common group of viruses that infect a range of animals and humans. The “Corona” word reflects a corona-like structure when these viruses are seen under a microscope in a laboratory. Genetic analysis of the virus behind COVID-19, named SARS-CoV-2, shows strong similarities to other corona viruses found in bats and there is reasonably strong evidence that mutations in a bat Corona virus led to the current strain.

In humans the strains of Corona viruses (until now) infect cells of the throat and lungs and are responsible for about one third cases of colds and similar respiratory illnesses. In healthy people these previous strains are highly contagious, annoying but usually self- limiting. This COVID-19 is a new virus in humans. No one has immunity and everyone can potentially be infected.

The coronavirus is a flu-like virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, high temperature, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

For most healthy people, the coronavirus will not cause serious health problems. For members of high risk groups, such as those currently undergoing cancer treatment or who may be immunosuppressed or with respiratory conditions, for example like Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease (COPD) the virus can cause serious complications.


For up to date information on COVID-19 figures and information regarding your county, see the COVID-19 hub here.

How does the virus affect people with cancer?


People currently receiving cancer treatment can be immunosuppressed , your Oncologist or Nurse will advise you if you are. Due to treatments such as chemotherapy, the immune system, which is designed to protect the body from infection, is compromised and the body has a reduced capacity to fight off illness. People that are currently on cancer treatment are in a vulnerable position and may be more at risk of contracting  the coronavirus.  This can have a serious effects on your health and all precautions should be considered always, in fact you should manage yourself as if you had the Coronavirus.

The HSE have encouraged those undergoing cancer treatment and members of high-risk groups to take extra precautions to protect yourself and your family against infection.

In this uncertain time, we all must play our part in helping to protect the most vulnerable in our society from the spread of the coronavirus.

Ways we can help to slow the spread of COVID-19

It is vital that you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and any member of your family and friends that may be high risk. To do this, it is recommended that you:

Wash your hands properly and often with soap and water or alcohol hand rub

Cover your cough, dispose of the tissue, wash your hands

Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surface

Avoid contact with anyone who is ill with a cough or difficulty breathing

Avoid unessential travel, follow travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Do not share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups.

Do not shake hands.

By following these steps, we can help to slow the spread of the virus and protect those most at risk.

For further support for those at every step of a cancer journey, click the circles below.

COVID-19 and Cancer

Coping Psychologically

COVID-19 Vaccine

Webinar Resources

Moving Forward

As we evaluate our current standings and work to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our own localities, it is more important than ever that we take all available health precautions and follow recommendations to help keep those most vulnerable safe.

What are some of the things you can do?

  • Ensure you are maintaining social distancing of 1m at all times
  • Where a face-covering where possible when in public places, and especially in enclosed areas such as shops or public transport.
  • Continue to practice good hand washing and hygiene etiquette

Face Coverings

Facemasks or coverings are a great way to help prevent the spread of COVID if you have been in contact with the virus. Masks do not protect you from the spread of COVID-19 but it can protect others in the case where you do not know you have been infected.

Here are some helpful tips on how to wear a face-covering most effectively:

  • Before putting on your mask, make sure you clean your hands thoroughly with soap or hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with the mask and make sure there is no gap in between
  • For ear-loop type masks, make sure you position the ear loops around both ears. Avoid touching the covering after placing it on your face.
  • To remove the mask, hold the mask by the ear loops and pull away from the face gently (do not touch the front of the mask).
  • If you have discarded the mask, ensure you clean your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Wash the mask in a high-temperature wash to disinfect before each use.


Irish designer Aideen Bodkin has created non-medical grade face covering to help keep people safe from the spread of COVID while also helping to support charities like ourselves, whos funding has been devastated by the current pandemic. A pack of two masks is available for just €12 euro and a donation from the sale of each mask goes towards supporting our services. To order a face covering for yourself or those you love, click here.


How you can help us

Due to the essential decisions that have been made by the Government in relation to gatherings and social distancing, the Marie Keating Foundation has been forced to cancel all of its upcoming fundraisers, which has had an immediate impact on the cancer charity’s income.

As a result, we are making an urgent appeal for the public’s help as they face an unprecedented situation with fundraising being curtailed and services stretched.

Director of Fundraising Linda Keating explains “The Marie Keating Foundation is so reliant on our main source of income, namely our own events and the public getting behind us with fun runs, coffee mornings, sponsored cycles, overseas walks and taking part in events like the Mini Marathon etc, that for all of these to be cancelled immediately with little notice is potentially devastating for us. We really do need the public’s help to help us continue to offer help to those we support who are now more vulnerable than ever.”

How COVID-19 has changed our services?

Circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are constantly changing and evolving and as a result, our services have too.


Positive Living:

In an effort to protect our Positive Living group members from further risk while also continuing to provide a vital service, we have decided to suspend face to face group meetings and instead are now offering online monthly meetings for members both existing and new.

Each month, members will be invited to log in to our virtual meeting and discuss the issues they have encountered, and memories they have made in the past month with their fellow group members and friends. As well as this, we have now established a new community WhatsApp group, meaning group members as well as our nurses can provide support and advice to members each week. For more information and to register for Positive Living, click here.


                                      Corporate Webinars:

We understand that businesses want to protect their staff, so we have designed Corporate Wellness Webinars to cater to this need. Our nursing team can now provide educational talks on how to stay healthy, recognise signs and symptoms of cancer as well as providing  information on how to reduce your risk of cancer off site, and employees can login from the office or home. Our aim is to make cancer less frightening by enlightening while also protecting the most vulnerable in our society from illness, and our new wellness webinars do just this. Find more information on how you can book one of our specially trained nurses to speak with your staff here.



Our Nursing Team:

Our nursing team across Ireland have been working tirelessly to help provide information and support to men and women on a cancer journey and to help them navigate the evolving coronavirus pandemic. Our nursing staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty, some redeploying to help support our health service, while others helping to  support members of high risk community on the ground through their community work.

If you are currently receiving treatment for cancer and would like to speak to one of our nurses, please visit the contact section of our website.




Staying healthy and making good lifestyle choices is still as important as ever when it comes to helping to reduce your risk of cancer. Our Stay Home, Stay Healthy page is designed to help you stay healthy at home during this difficult time. Tips tips on how to exercise while cocooning to how to be SunSmart when social distancing outdoors, now more than ever it is essential to stay healthy  while protecting those most vulnerable. For more information, click here.

Additional Resources

  • The Marie Keating Foundation's six week wellness webinar series for cancer patients and survivors is available on demand here.
  • For up to date information on the coronavirus in Ireland, visit the HSE website
  • To download a copy of the Stay Safe COVID-19 Guideline booklet, click here
  • For posters and educational materials translated into a wide array of different languages, click here. 
  • For information and advice on how to cope with fear and worry related to COVID-19 click here.
  • Mental Health Crisis Textline - A new Crisis Textline – Text 50808, was recently launched. The HSE text-based mental health service will provide support to anyone struggling with any issue, big or small, for free and at any time of any day. The service is staffed by 300 trained crisis volunteers and people can access support by texting 50808.
  • Download information about how to manage long term illness during the pandemic here.
  • To watch a range of videos designed to give information on the coronavirus here


  • A new National Bereavement Support Line
    The Irish Hospice Foundation, in conjunction with the HSE, has set up a new National Bereavement Support Line to provide connection, comfort and support to those grieving in these exceptional times.
    It is a freephone service and will be open from 10am to 1pm, Monday to Friday, starting from today, Tuesday 9 June.
    The number to call is 1800 80 70 77. Please find more information here


  • ALONE's Q&A for older people, or those caring for the elderly can be found here. For more information about ALONE and the work they do to support older people across Ireland, visit their website here.
  • For more information about Age Action's  Care and Repair Hardship fund click here
  • For information and advice on how to cope with asthma during the COVID-19 pandemic from the Asthma Society of Ireland click here
  • To find information on the Irish Hospice Foundation's Funeral Fund, click here
  • HSE Hospital Service  disruption Information can be found here

Guided meditation sessions with Orlaith O'Suillivan

Deep relaxation:

Great for during the day or at bedtime (it’s fine to fall asleep) - this is a key practice to help soothe our nervous system and give ourselves space to rest, refresh and heal.

Post Work Reset:

This is good for transitions, to help us let go of a busy time or a difficult exchange. We make a gift of this little space so that we can refresh ourselves - then we can be more present for ourselves and our loved ones.

Walking with Marie:

Walking meditation is great when we’re feeling strong emotions. You can walk at any pace and feel safety and kindness in your footsteps


Springtime Meditation:

This guided practice invites us to connect with the energy of springtime, drawing on the joy, strength, tenacity, and hope of the season.



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