COVID-19 acute respiratory infection (Adults)

  • covid smallThis guideline is for those diagnosed with COVID-19 infection
  • COVID-19 is a viral infection.
  • COVID-19 antivirals may be considered for patients at risk of progressing to severe disease.
  • Secondary bacterial infection appears uncommon in COVID-19 patients.
  • Differentiating viral COVID-19 infection versus a secondary bacterial COVID-19 pneumonia:
    • Viral COVID-19 infection more likely if;
      • history of typical COVID-19 symptoms for about a week
      • severe muscle pain (myalgia),
      • loss of sense of smell (anosmia), taste (dysgeusia)
      • breathless but has no pleuritic pain
      • history of exposure to known or suspected COVID-19, such as a household or workplace contact.
    • Secondary bacterial COVID-19 more likely if;
      • became rapidly unwell after only a few days of symptoms.
      • does not have a history of typical COVID-19 symptoms.
      • purulent sputum.
      • pleuritic pain.
      • underlying chronic lung disease with history of secondary bacterial infection in winters e.g. in acute infective exacerbation of COPD.
  • Doxycycline is preferred because it has a broader spectrum of cover than amoxicillin, particularly against Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus, which are more likely to be secondary bacterial causes of pneumonia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Check pulse oximetry.
  • Use the following symptoms and signs to help identify patients with more severe illness to help make decisions about hospital admission:
    • severe shortness of breath at rest or difficulty breathing.
    • reduced oxygen saturation levels measured by pulse oximetry.
    • Severe comorbidity.
    • Signs of overt sepsis.
  • At convalescence, ensure COVID-19, influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations up to date.
  • For further information on COVID-19 resources can be found on the HSE Health Library Ireland website.


covid19 table oct 2021

* Alternative doxycycline dose: 100mg every 12 hours.  

 In non-severe infection, 200mg stat then 100mg every 24 hours can be considered.

Symptom relief

  • Honey may help to relieve symptoms of cough.
  • Consider short-term use of codeine linctus in people 18 years and over to suppress coughing if it is distressing.
  • Consider analgesia: paracetamol (or ibuprofen where appropriate).
  • Ensure adequate hydration by drinking plenty of fluid.
  • Advise to consult pharmacist for symptom relief.

Interim Guidance - Treatment for Covid-19 Infection with Paxlovid™ (PF-07321332 + ritonavir)

Important: Please note that the current (most up to date) version of the word template to use when seeking advice from the National Medicines Information Centre  "NMIC template document for drug interaction review - PaxlovidTM (PF-07321332 + ritonavir)"  (currently Version 2, 27/07/2022) and other relevant materials are available on

Patient Information

HSE website: Coronavirus information

Safe Prescribing (visit the safe prescribing page)

Reviewed February 2023

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