STUDENTS of the region’s main university have been involved in contact tracing in the fight against COVID-19 saying “the lists are long” but they are hoping to “make a difference”.
University of Limerick, in partnership with the HSE, has set up the UL Virtual Hub with over 50 senior health sciences students trained to engage in contact tracing.
The students, from medicine, allied health and nursing, are making calls to inform people that they have tested positive, as well as providing health advice.
UL staff are managing the virtual contact tracing hub and are providing technical support and advice. A further 270 staff and students have signed up to volunteer in due course.
70 staff from Revenue, who were trained in UL, are responsible for follow-up calls to identify contacts of the person who has tested positive.
“I am incredibly proud of both staff and students, who have put in huge amounts of work in relation to training and setting up the virtual hub, whilst continuing with their other work,” said Professor Rachel Msetfi, Executive Dean, Faculty of Education and Health Sciences at UL, who is supporting the contact tracing scheme.
“Contact tracing is an incredibly important part of reducing transmission rates. When someone tests positive they receive several phone calls, one is to inform them that they are positive, provide advice on the steps they need to take, and so forth, recognising that the person they are calling might be very upset and anxious as a result of this news,” she added.
“Our UL staff are managing all of this; organising shifts, assigning the volunteers to particular roles and monitoring the contact tracing activity, answering the queries, and so forth. They have also set up a virtual hub to allow all of this activity and are liaising closely with the HSE.”
The UL student volunteers are currently carrying out up to 70 calls a day to those who have tested positive for COVID-19.