By Maeve Lee & Keith Faherty
As a journalism student, the majority of my time is spent within the newsroom in the Arts Millennium building on the NUI Galway campus. Along with the Concourse, this building would house many of the 1,000 Arts students as well as other departments.
As I made my way through the building, I noticed there was not a single poster or notice about coronavirus.
Within the female bathrooms, the theme continued. Above the sinks there were two lonesome posters; one on an event and another promoting safe sexual health. Within each cubicle, there is a frame for various interchanging posters-none of which mentioned the virus or any advice on sanitation.
The ‘Bialann’ is the university’s main cafeteria area and is always jam-packed. As I made my way to the coffee machines, I took account of the various notices about cleaning your table after yourself but there was not a single Coronavirus poster or notice.
As the place where admittedly a lot of students spend far too much time, it seems bizarre that there is no advice on hygiene or reminders to wash your hands during the outbreak of a virus that has spread from China to Ireland in a matter of weeks. A member of staff, however, did inform me that she and some other members of staff had been screened following the outbreak.
I then decided to take a look at the Student Health Unit, which is currently suspending its walk-in service. In comparison to the rest of my observations on campus, it appeared to have a lot of notices and advice on the virus, though there were only three or four of these posters. A bathroom nearby, however, had a helpful poster reminding people to wash their hands, stating that is is a case of “when not if” the virus is found on campus.
Overall, as a student who spends most of their time in one campus building, along with the communal area of the Bialann, it appears that I live in a world where the coronavirus does not exist. From walking through the main areas of the campus, there are no signs of the virus nor indicators of the risk, nor any sanitizer dispensers in my day-to-day journey around campus, and I cannot help but wonder how many other students share this routine.
I walk about a thousand steps to college each day at NUIG, passing a lot of people on my way to class. The majority of my lectures are within one building, in which I found that the bathroom has no warning signs about coronavirus.
I have also noticed that people do not really use disinfectant as there are not many hand sanitizer dispensers on campus, or in the toilets in the Arts Millennium.
After noticing the lack of posters and means of sanitation on campus, I couldn’t help but wonder if this could be one of the reasons that this Coronavirus ended up in the West of Ireland. Given the recent outbreak in Ireland; anywhere you go, any public place we go to, we should always wash our hand with soap and water, as is advised by the HSE.
As students in NUIG, we are regularly amongst large crowds, which is also an international university with people coming from all over the world to study here. Given my observations of the lack of sanitation facilities and coronavirus notices, I wonder why there are not enough warning signs in bathrooms to remind people to wash their hands.
I decided to ask some students for their opinions on NUIG’s prevention measures and some said that they refuse to eat or buy anything in canteens over in fear of contracting the virus. Within the Bialann, which is the largest canteen on campus, I found no signs or information on coronavirus. This is somewhat strange given the number of students that gather there during the day.
From what I have seen, health risks assessments need to be carried out by the NUIG to improve these issues and the general well-being of students and staff.
There are now 24 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland.