Coronavirus (COVID-19) and International Volunteering

Preparing for the almost inevitable global spread of this virus, now dubbed COVID-19, is one of the most pro-social, altruistic things you can do in response to potential disruptions of this kind.

We should prepare, not because we may feel personally at risk, but so that we can help lessen the risk for everyone. We should prepare not because we are facing a doomsday scenario out of our control, but because we can alter every aspect of this risk we face as a society.


That’s right, you should prepare because your neighbors need you to prepare—especially your elderly neighbors, your neighbors who work at hospitals, your neighbors with chronic illnesses, and your neighbors who may not have the means or the time to prepare because of lack of resources or time.

Zeynep Tufekci

Over the last few days we have received some enquiries around Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the related potential impacts and areas of consideration around international volunteering and travelling. 

We don’t provide specific advice around the COVID-19 virus, though there are several places we recommend you look, in order to best make informed choices in the coming days and weeks.  So here are a few links we feel are particularly relevant for those involved in international volunteering.  

Advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

“Anyone who may have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19, is advised to contact HSE Live (1850 24 1850, https://www.hse.ie/eng/hselive/). 

If you are unwell with cough, especially with respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, high temperature, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fever) you should isolate yourself immediately and phone your GP.”

Wash Your Hands (properly)

One of the most effective and socially useful things you can do to assist in slowing the COVID-19 spread is washing you hands.  Sounds simple right? We recommend these steps to making sure that’s properly done.

  • Wet your hands (with clean running water where possible). 
  • Turn off the tap and add plenty of hand sanitiser or soap to your hands
  • Lather up by running hands together. Lather it into the back of your hands, under your nails and in between your fingers. This friction across all nook and crannies of your hands removes germs. Do this for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wash off all the lather in running water.  This removes germs in the lather and off your hands. 
  • Dry your hands properly, as wet hands transmits any germs not removed easier than dry hands.

International Travel Advice.

The primary source of information in Ireland is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.  There is a specific section of the website that you can find here, which is regularly updated.

The site states:

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and our Embassies worldwide are monitoring the situation closely, and are in ongoing contact with the World Health Organisation and other relevant international and domestic partners. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade regularly updates its travel advice for over 200 countries and we would encourage our citizens to read this information carefully before they travel.”

If you have queries about a specific country you can check the departments travel advice in this handy A-Z list of countries here https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/

The World Health Organisation have produced this Q&A video How to protect yourself when travelling

Travel Insurance Questions

If you already have a travel insurance, your insurer should be the first port of call to find out any changes as they relate to your own plans. The AA have posted this blog with some useful information around travel consumer rights.

Preparation as a social good

Zeynep Tufekci  published a powerful article last week. Whilst written for the US context, its core message was about rejecting panic and placing thoughtfulness and preparation as something that is, at its core, the social altruistic thing to do. 

  “Preparing for the almost inevitable global spread of this virus, now dubbed COVID-19, is one of the most pro-social, altruistic things you can do in response to potential disruptions of this kind.

We should prepare, not because we may feel personally at risk, but so that we can help lessen the risk for everyone. We should prepare not because we are facing a doomsday scenario out of our control, but because we can alter every aspect of this risk we face as a society. That’s right, you should prepare because your neighbors need you to prepare—especially your elderly neighbors, your neighbors who work at hospitals, your neighbors with chronic illnesses, and your neighbors who…..

You can read the full piece here

Avoid sharing dis/misinformation

Increasingly we are seeing the spread of misinformation and disinformation in online conversations that can have real world impacts in creating panic, but also bad practice, mistrust, fear leading to even stronger responses of racism and violence. 

Over the past week the World Health Organisation has joined TikTok to curb the spread of Coronavirus online

@who

We are joining @tiktok to provide you with reliable and timely public health advice! Our first post: How to protect yourself from ##coronavirus ?

♬ original sound – who

So make sure you check the sources of information you are sharing online.