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Connacht Tribune

An earnest wish that things can only get better in 2021

Francis Farragher

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One small step at a time but hopefully one giant leap as the year goes by.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

NO sooner had I gone half-way in my alphabetical wish list for 2021, than another tranche of bad news has arrived, with our third major lockdown of the coronavirus emergency. There’s just no getting away from this tiny microscopic monster that we were only beginning to hear about this time last year in far-off China. We’ve a tough month or two coming up, but after that, the range of vaccines on offer should offer some real hope and just a little chink of light as the sun gets higher in the sky. A time possibly to hark back to my Leaving Cert days and one of my favourite poems of the time, Ode to the West Wind, from the pen of one Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his concluding couplet of:
“The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind.”
N undoubtedly has to be for the New Year and the earnest hope that through the course of 2021, a semblance of normality will return to our lives. By now, we’ve learned to temper any optimism with realism, but I’m hoping by Midsummer’s Day, just to have one pint and maybe sing a song in the local after an evening ‘at the turf’. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that we miss the most.
O is for the Oxford vaccine developed primarily by scientists and researchers at the academically revered Oxford University. The full title of the product is the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and while it’s being administered across the UK since last Monday, the EU regulators seem to be behind the curve in terms of giving it the final nod of approval. Not a time to be hanging around lads!
P is for all the players of sports – no, not the so-called elite ones – but the ordinary lads and girls youngish and oldish, who cannot go out onto the fields and hit a ball either big or small because of the times we live in. Not even 20 minutes in the pool or gym is allowed. Nothing against the ‘elitists’ here either – as at least they have given us something to watch on ‘the box’ during those dreary winter nights – but in normal times, sport should really be for everyone.

 

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Compliant Galwegians are keeping their distance

Francis Farragher

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Checkpoint...Garda warning for those who stray too far from home.

BOY racers, cyclists, gym users and young people attending house parties are among those in Galway who have been issued with Fixed Payment Notices (FPNs) for breaching the Covid-19 travel regulations over the past week.

However, Gardaí in Galway have reported ‘a very high-level of compliance’ from the general public as regards the travel restrictions that are a central part of the Level-5 ‘Stay Home – Stay Safe’ Covid campaign.

Over the weekend, Gardaí issued FPNs to so-called ‘boy racers’ in two separate cases on the Tuam Road outside Galway city and in the Craughwell area.

FPNs – involving a €100 on-the-spot fine – were also issued last week to a number of young people attending house parties in the Galway city area, after Gardaí had been called to the scene.

Two cyclists stopped in the Cornamona area of North Connemara last week, who were 19 kilometres from their homes – and outside their own county boundary – also faced Garda censure.

The cyclists weren’t from the same household; they weren’t wearing masks; and also, were in breach of social distancing regulations.

Gardaí also came across a case of a gym in South Galway being used by a number of people last week – also a breach of the Covid-19, Level-5 restrictions.

While Gardaí also received a number of calls about possible ‘pub-opening’ violations, on investigation, they found no sign of activity on the premises they checked out.

Galway Chief Garda Superintendent, Tom Curley, told the Connacht Tribune that overall, there was ‘a very high level of compliance’ as regards the travel restrictions which was ‘very encouraging’.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Lessons learned on home-schooling

Denise McNamara

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Cathal Moore, principal of the Presentation Athenry.

Home-schooling is working better this time round with many teachers conducting live classes and more students actively engaging than when schools closed suddenly last March.

But virtual education is a poor substitute for the experience of the classroom with students sorely missing social interaction, according to teachers, while parents are still struggling to balance working from home with ensuring their children keep up with the school work.

The sooner that schools can reopen safely the better for everyone – although most agree that it’s looking more likely to be after mid-term than at the beginning of February.

“Everybody is in a better place this time round – schools, teachers, parents and students. Everybody expected to be back at school. It’s no secret last time we got two hours’ notice but this time round we’re better prepared,” remarks the principal of the Presentation Athenry, Cathal Moore.

The mixed secondary school is doing a mix of live and recorded classes as not every student has good broadband.

After the first week, there was feedback from students that they felt there was too much homework in addition to the virtual classes while teachers reported that they would prefer more live communication from their charges.

“It is more tiring – fatigue is definitely a factor when on a screen all day and if this goes on for a prolonged amount of time it will creep in for a growing number of students.”

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Hard-pressed hospitals down 450 staff over Covid

Dara Bradley

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More than 450 staff – including nurses at UHG and Portiuncula – are now out of work due to Covid, as staff shortages threaten the public hospitals’ ability to cope with the crisis.

The upsurge has seen UHG deal with a record number of Covid-19 patients, and the hospital had to escalate its surge capacity plan and add extra beds in ICU.

The latest CSO figures reveal that the first week of the New Year was Galway’s deadliest yet on the pandemic front, with five lives lost over those opening seven days of 2021.

That brought the total number of virus fatalities in Galway to 25, and it’s understood there have been further deaths locally since then, which will be confirmed later.

From March to the end of November there were 20 deaths notified in Galway, and no further deaths were recorded in all of December.

News of Galway’s deadliest week comes as local leaders in the HSE, Garda, and local government joined forces to warn that Covid-19 was still spreading rapidly in the community.

Nationally, between January 5 and 18, there were 263 Covid-19 deaths recorded, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC), which does not give a geographical breakdown. Of these deaths, 119 were hospitalised and 14 had been admitted to ICU.

The median age of all of Galway’s Covid fatalities is 83; the median age of the confirmed cases in Galway is 31 – the lowest of 26 counties.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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