Coronavirus outbreaks have been declared among the student population in Galway city, with HSE West identifying “many close contacts of known cases”.
A dedicated Covid-19 student helpline is in operation this weekend for NUI Galway (NUIG) students experiencing symptoms. Galway-Mayo IT (GMIT) is urging its Galway-based students who believe they may have been exposed to the virus to get a test.
In a letter sent to NUIG students on Friday, seen by The Irish Times, the HSE’s director of public health for the region, Dr Breda Smyth, warned the nature of transmission means many students may have been exposed to the virus.
NUIG students with symptoms are being urged to contact their GP or the student health unit doctor. Anyone with a recent positive case in their social network who thinks they were exposed to Covid-19 will be treated as close contacts, the letter states.
GMIT’s Covid officer issued emails to all students on Friday with regard to the HSE-declared outbreak among its students living in Galway city.
There were 139 cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Galway on Friday, a significant spike from the previous five days, when there were between 32 and 63 cases notified daily to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
In line with current Level 5 restrictions, only essential on-site activities, including research activities, were being held at the NUIG campus.
The majority of teaching is conducted online, with exceptions made for laboratory and practical lessons. GMIT has made exceptions for some on-site lessons for students of the departments of nursing, health sciences, and social care.
NUIG Students’ Union president Pádraic Toomey said the outbreak there coincided with the start of the new semester. He said while the campus is closed, a “large amount of students” returned to the city last weekend ahead of the first day of term on February 8th.
He told Midwest Radio the university has a large proportion of students from outside its catchment area, with many choosing to return to the city to access more reliable broadband for their studies.