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Long awaited temporary surgical theatres at Merlin Park facing further delays

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Concerns are being raised that long overdue temporary surgical theatres at Merlin Park Hospital are set to be delayed even further.

A decision on planning permission was due in recent days – but city planners have now instead requested further information from the HSE.

It’s after planning permission was sought for two modular orthopaedic surgery theatres – after existing theatres were shut down in 2017 following leaks.

Since then, only one has re-opened following repair works and waiting lists have continued to grow sharply due to the lack of facilities.

City planners have now raised questions over the temporary nature of the planned new modular surgical theatres – as well as concerns over the potential environmental impact.

At 9, councillor Padraig Conneely says this is a further delay as waiting lists continue to grow….

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Council’s refusal of plan for Kingston apartments appealed to An Bord Pleanála

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Galway Bay FM Newsroom – The City Council’s refusal of a proposal for 74 residential units in Kingston has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

City Planners turned down the application for the Knocknacarra based development at the end of March

The development led by Diagnostic Medical Imagine International Ltd sets out to demolish two existing houses and build three 4 to 5 story apartment blocks.

The plan also provided for a residents gym and a new vehicular entrance.

City planners refused the development at the end of March based on two main considerations.

One takes issue with the dispersal of traffic through alternate routes.

It’s stated the Garraí de Bruin route had not been demonstrated to be compliant with relevant guidelines or under the control or consent of the applicant.

It further stated that access arrangements for the Kingston Road route would not stand in the event of the exclusion of the connection through Garraí De Bruin.

Planners also stated that the applicant has failed to adequately demonstrate and provide consent and sufficient legal interest for the inclusion of lands forming part of the planning application.

The decision has now been appealed to An Bord Pleanála with a decision expected at the end of August.

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315 new cases of Covid-19 reported in Ireland

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Galway Bay FM Newsroom – The Department of Health has been notified of 315 new cases of Covid-19 here.

62 people are currently in hospital with the disease, up 4 since yesterday.

While there has been no change in the number of people in ICU, with 22 people receiving intensive care treatment today.

There are no figures available for Galway.

Meanwhile in the UK…

Another 7-thousand-490 new Covid-19 cases have been recorded in the latest 24 hour period.

A further 8 deaths have been reported within 28 days of a positive test.

Another 254-thousand-185 people have received their first vaccination with 320-thousand-326 people having had their second.

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NUI Galway researchers highlight digital health lessons learned from Covid-19

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Researchers at NUI Galway have highlighted how different approaches to digital contact tracing were taken during the Covid-19 pandemic by jurisdictions with and without prior recent experience of epidemics.

The analysis, authored by James O’Connell and Professor Derek O’Keeffe from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, has been published by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

In their work, James O’Connell and Professor O’Keeffe discuss how South Korea learned important lessons from their MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) epidemic in 2015 and put in place a political, legal and technological foundation that enabled an agile digital health response to the first wave of Covid-19.

By comparison, Western countries struggled with both the societal and technical requirements needed to implement a digital solution to augment traditional manual contact tracing, which is a critical tool in managing infectious disease outbreak.

Automation using geolocation tracking allowed teams of epidemiologic investigators in South Korea to trace not only contacts but also the setting in which contact occurred up to 14 days before symptom onset or diagnosis.

This information allowed them to gain a greater understanding of the settings in which SARS-CoV-2 transmission was occurring and to implement more targeted health protection measures in response.

In contrast, traditional contact-tracing systems in most Western countries had the capacity to identify and notify only people who had come into contact with an infected person within 48 hours before symptom onset or diagnosis. This digital limitation perhaps contributed to the first wave of Covid-19 in Western countries that outpaced the epidemic in South Korea. By the end of their first epidemic wave in April 2020, South Korea had reported 10,423 infections and only 204 deaths — a remarkable achievement given the population size of just over 50 million. In contrast, European countries saw more than 2.1 million cases and 180,000 deaths by the end of their first wave in June.

James O’Connell, author and HIVE lab postgraduate researcher at NUI Galway, says: “This analysis highlights important learnings from this pandemic that will enable a better response to the next. We have all seen how important proportionate, effective, efficient and timely contact tracing is during this pandemic. Digital technologies can enhance the capacity of contact tracing systems to perform in this way, aiding efforts to achieve and maintain epidemic control.”

Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Consultant Physician, Professor of Medical Device Technology and Director of the HIVE lab at NUI Galway, says: “This research highlights the importance of learning from critical events and then creating the necessary technological tools and political and legal frameworks, so that when it occurs again, we are ready to respond quickly.”

The work also highlights the importance of realising the limitations of using digital contact tracing solutions in populations who are not able to access such technology (such as the digital divide ) and also in non-native language speakers (such as migrant communities).

The NUI Galway authors also discuss the apparent idiosyncrasy that many people freely share significant amounts of personal data with large multinational corporations for no health benefit and yet had significant ideological issues in sharing similar data with governments during an emergency health scenario.

As the first epidemic wave came to an end and the imminent threat of further loss of life eased, geolocation-based digital contact-tracing systems and their interference with personal privacy and data protection rights became less palatable. They became the subject of intense scrutiny in countries that used them, including South Korea and also Norway and Israel. In a pandemic that had the potential to last several years, many Western countries recognised the need for trustworthy, transparent, privacy-preserving digital contact-tracing technologies that were acceptable to Western populations.

Following the example of Singapore’s Bluetooth Low Energy digital contact-tracing app TraceTogether, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, among others, set out to develop their own systems, which had varying uptake by target populations. Western countries tended to favor a decentralised, privacy-preserving protocol for contact tracing — meaning that rather than being sent to central government servers, the data collected stayed on the user’s device, are encrypted, and are automatically deleted after 14 days. By the end of 2020, there were at least 65 Bluetooth Low Energy–enabled digital contact-tracing systems worldwide, including 26 in the United States.

Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of Medicine, College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway, says “I am delighted to see this perspective by Professor O’Keeffe and James O’Connell published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Professor O’Keeffe’s research and education activities reflect the convergence of Engineering and Medicine which is a priority at NUI Galway.  Professor O’Keeffe has used his training as an engineer and a physician to develop innovative approaches to dealing with the covid pandemic and we look forward to the launch of the new combined undergraduate degree in Medicine and Engineering to graduate the “physicianeers” of the future.”

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