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Navy Patrol Ships Field Hospitals Established for Covid-19 Testing

23rd March 2020
A tented field hospital beside the Naval patrol ship, LE William Butler Yeats in Galway Docks A tented field hospital beside the Naval patrol ship, LE William Butler Yeats in Galway Docks Photo: Navy

Defence Force staff set up a tented field hospital beside the Naval patrol ship, LE William Butler Yeats, yesterday (sun) in preparation for use as a Covid-19 testing centre writes Lorna Siggins

A marquee was erected beside the ship in Galway docks, similar to arrangements made for the Health Service Executive in Dublin and Cork.

The LÉ Samuel Beckett has already been deployed to Dublin and the LÉ Eithne to Cork city, with all three cities having riverside berths.

Naval service experience of testing for infectious illnesses during migrant rescue in the Mediterranean influenced the decision to make ships available as support to the HSE.

The Defence Forces Press Office said the ships were deployed “to generate extra capacity for the HSE.

It has confirmed one ship has been kept for fisheries protection surveillance, but fishing fleets are already beginning to tie up in response to a dramatic slump in seafood demand and closure of international markets.

As thousands of people took to the outdoors in the west yesterday (sun), a drone flying over Galway’s Salthill promenade urged walkers to observe social distancing guidelines to avoid Covid-19 infection.

Fianna Fáil Galway West TD Eamon Ó Cuív expressed concern yesterday (sun) that social distancing was not being observed by visitors to the west coast.

“Disturbing reports from Achill of people travelling to the area, failing to observe social distancing and putting local people at risk. I’ve heard similar reports from Connemara. I would appeal to people-respect local communities and keep your distance-that includes when in shops and outside,”Mr Ó Cuív said in a statement on social media.

The drone flying over Salthill yesterday (sun) relayed a recording urging people to keep two metres apart.

However, the aerial device was not clearly identified, and some walkers were mystified.

Galway City Council said it had not commissioned a drone. Several other State bodies, including the Defence Forces and Civil Defence, also said they had not deployed it.

Drones have been used in China for a range of Covid-19 responses, from warning people to wear masks and observe quarantine curfews to lighting the construction sites for purpose built hospitals after the outbreak late last year.

Spanish police also deployed drones in Madrid to issue public health warnings and appeal to people to return home from public places after a state of emergency was declared.

Galway City Council issued an “urgent” call before the weekend to the public to obey social distancing, and installed stencils on the Promenade depicting two metre distances for walkers.

The Leave No Trace campaign has issued guidelines for walkers, including observing the two-metre distance and avoiding both peak times and difficult routes on uplands. It has also urged walkers to take their rubbish home.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Irish Sailing & Boating

Since restrictions began in March 2020, the Government is preparing for a 'controlled and gradual return to sport' and the 2020 sailing fixtures are being tentatively redrafted by yacht clubs, rowing clubs angling and diving clubs across Ireland as the country enters a new phase in dealing with the Coronavirus. The hope is that a COVID-19 restrictions might be eased by May 5th as Sport Ireland has asked national governing bodies for information on the challenges they face. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

To help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) everyone has been asked to stay at home. But some people may need to do more than this.

You may need to either:

You do these things to stop other people from getting coronavirus.

Read advice for people in at-risk groups

Read advice about cocooning.

Restricted movements

Everybody in Ireland has been asked to stay at home. You should only go out for a few reasons, such as shopping for food.

But you need to restrict your movements further if you: 

  • live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, but you feel well
  • are a close contact of a confirmed case of coronavirus
  • have returned to Ireland from another country

You need to restrict your movements for at least 14 days.

But if the person you live with has had a test and it is negative, you don't need to wait 14 days. You should still follow the advice for everyone - stay at home as much as possible.

Close contact

This is only a guide but close contact can mean:

  • spending more than 15 minutes of face-to-face contact within 2 metres of an infected person
  • living in the same house or shared accommodation as an infected person

How to restrict your movements 

Follow the advice for everybody - stay at home.

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