By Rachel Garvey
As the Coronavirus becomes a worldwide fear, NUI Galway has been putting safety guidelines in place to ensure the safety of all students inside and outside the University. NUI Galway has been updating its website to bring students the information that they may need in order to keep people calm as well as offer advice if symptoms are showing. “The healthcare staff in the Student Health Unit are all fully briefed on the most up-to-date guidance regarding the current advice for students/visitors who have travelled to Ireland from China, as well as on all of the assessment/management algorithms for any potential suspected cases, should one ever come to their attention at any stage in the future”, says Dr McDonagh of the Student Health Unit.
The Coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19, is a large group of viruses that can cause different types of illnesses, the majority of them being a common cold. In this case the virus is leading to severe illness like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). However, this Coronavirus seems to have a new strain, known as the “novel coronavirus” and it has never been seen in humans before. Symptoms can include a fever of up to 38°C or higher, cough, breathing difficulties, shortness of breath and sore throat which can take up to fourteen days to appear. These symptoms can be treated, however there is no specific treatment yet for the novel Coronavirus.
“The NUI Galway page is being updated whenever any new information is received from either the HPSC and/or DFA. There have been email circulars issued to all students and staff informing them of this ‘alert page’, and regarding the information contained therein, with additional email communications being issued whenever there are any new updates, as and when they occur”, says Dr McDonagh, as he gave us insight about future updates.
It is also advised that students and staff in China should return to Ireland and that all other travel plans to China should be postponed. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have also updated their warnings, advising people to avoid non-essential travel. They commented, “In Hubei, where the situation is still developing, increasingly strong containment measures are coming along. Travel within the province is tightly contained and all tourist facilities have been closed. Under the circumstances, Irish citizens are strongly advised not to travel to the province of Hubei”.
People who have travelled to China or have been in contact with a person who is diagnosed with novel coronavirus have been directed to phone their Local Department of Public Health for further advice, but they are advised that there is no need to quarantine themselves. Work and school can be attended as normal and they must also monitor themselves to see if symptoms arise. If they do, they are urged to immediately phone their GP or the Student Health Unit. Those who are suffering from the symptoms listed previously are advised to stay at home, to avoid public places, to sustain from attending university or work.
Guidelines have also been posted with how to protect yourself from the novel coronavirus, which include washing hands with soap and water, covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing and throwing used tissues away into bins and washing your hands afterwards. They also advise to avoid any close contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of a flu or cold and to check the travel advice online from the Department of Foreign Affairs prior to arranging travel abroad.
At the time of going to print, there are still no confirmed cases of the virus in Ireland.