Friday, 24 September 2021

NUI Galway athletes urge fellow students to join UniCoV project

An Olympic medal winning rower and an All-Ireland winning hurler have urged fellow students at NUI Galway to take part in the unicov.org rapid testing project to combat Covid-19. Athlete-scholars Fiona Murtagh and Galway senior hurler Conor Whelan added their voices to the project as thousands of young people settle into the return to campus. NUI Galway is leading the programme, which is seeking hundreds of student volunteers for rapid antigen testing and saliva-based PCR and LAMP testing, as well as conducting wastewater surveillance. Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Fiona Murtagh said: “Sport and teamwork go hand in hand. The Olympics was possible this year because of our safety measures in preventing the spread of Covid-19. 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.” Conor Whelan, All-Star and All-Ireland winning hurler with Galway in 2015, said: “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 in order to avoid any outbreaks and help with early detection.” Unicov.org allows for large-scale comparative analysis of Covid-19 testing technologies to inform the development of early warning systems for future disease outbreak prevention and control. For further detail about the project and to register, go to www.unicov.org. As well as NUI Galway being the lead site for the project, it is also running in Trinity College, UCD and UCC. More than 2,100 tests have been completed so far at NUI Galway, with the project coordinators targeting a significant rise in testing the coming weeks. More than 400 employees and students have volunteered at NUI Galway alone, with the target of 2,000 participants at each of the four sites. NUI Galway Professor Breda Smyth, UniCoV’s national coordinator, said: “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.” “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.” Ends

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