An Olympic medal winning rower and an All-Ireland winning hurler have urged fellow students at NUI Galway to take part in the UniCovrapid testing project to combat Covid-19.
Athlete-scholars Fiona Murtagh and Galway senior hurler Conor Whelan added their voices to the UniCov project as thousands of students attempt to settle back into campus life.
NUI Galway is leading the programme, which is seeking hundreds of student volunteers for rapid antigen testing and saliva-based PCR and LAMP testing.
The push for students to sign up follows 2,100 tests for the project being completed at NUI Galway alone, with a significant rise in testing set in the coming weeks by the project coordinators.
Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist in the women’s coxless four Fiona Murtagh stated that this year’s Olympics were possible because of safety measures put in place in preventing the spread of Covid-19.
“Sport and teamwork go hand in hand” Murtagh states. “In order to keep campus life here in Galway as normal as possible, I encourage everyone to work together in helping to control the spread of Covid. Please join me in taking the tests and participate in the UniCoV programme.”
All-Star and All-Ireland winner Conor Whelan, who was part of the winning Galway All-Ireland team in 2015 is also urging fellow students to join the project.
Whelan stated: “I’m encouraging all students to volunteer for the UniCoV programme, to take the tests and work together as part of a team in the fight against Covid. It’s been great to see students back on campus and life going back to normal as we know it.
But keep in mind the fight against COVID is still ongoing and follow the HSE guidelines. I encourage all students to volunteer for UniCoV programme to avoid any outbreaks and help with early detection.”
Over 400 employees and students at NUI Galway alone have volunteered for the project.
While NUI Galway is the main project site, Project UniCov is also being rolled out in Trinity College (TCD), University College Dublin(UCD) and University College Cork(UCC.)
They are aiming for 2,000 participants at each of the four sites.
“UniCoV together with vaccination, face masks, social distancing and hand washing, is an additional layer to protect the community and to help prevent any asymptomatic spread of SARS-CoV-2” states NUI Galway Professor Breda Smyth, UniCov’s national coordinator.
Rapid tests have the potential to enhance and complement the existing public health strategy for monitoring of the virus. UniCoV needs people from across the entire university community – students and staff – to get involved, volunteer and take part.”