The impact of the “Swine Flu” pandemic on Trinity College remains a mystery to the students and staff it may affect. It has emerged that only one person out of Trinity’s 2676 staff and 15716 students is aware of the instances of the H1N1 virus in TCD. That person is Dr. David McGrath, Director of the College Health Service. The College Health Service confirmed to Trinity News that Dr. McGrath is the only person with access to the vital statistics and, as he was away last week on annual leave, there was no-one on campus who knew the current state of the deadly pandemic.
There is no such apparent lack of accountability evident in other Irish universities. NUI Galway, for example, published a document accounting the 165 instances of swine flu reported since term began in mid-September. Furthermore, the weekly breakdown of the document, provided by spokesperson for the NUI Galway Health Service Kevina Shaughnessy within an hour of request, indicates a stable pattern in the number of reported cases. The purpose of the document is to make lecturers and staff aware of the impact the pandemic may have on their teaching programmes. However documents of a similar nature are not readily available to Trinity College staff or students. The College has continued to remain hazy in their response to the virus.
In contrast, staff at UCD have been advised to cut their twelve-week teaching terms by two weeks in order to accommodate the rising instances of Swine Flu among the student body. The decision was made as a result of research by the UCD Swine Flu Committee.
A spokesperson for the TCD Communications Office, Sally-Anne Fisher, revealed that the instances of swine flu among college students and staff are “in line with national trends”. If this is in fact the case, then rates of swine flu in College should be doubling weekly. The HSE released a report this week disclosing the number of hospitalised cases, which has risen by 109 to 492 nationwide, with an almost 50% increase in consultations. When asked about the volume of swine flu-related GP appointments made in College this term, the TCD Health Service remained unable to comment.