All-Ireland winner with Galway Conor Whelan has praised the actions of his local village Kinvara in containing the spread of COVID-19 in the area.
According to Whelan, a family in the south-west Galway parish was hit by the virus after a skiing holiday abroad but the community’s proactive response has seen Kinvara get “a good hold” on the spread of the coronavirus.
“Kinvara was one of the few areas that were very open about the fact that they have positive cases of the virus”, Whelan stated.
“I think it was one of the first places to be open and honest about it with the objective of ensuring that people stayed away and to try and stop the spread of the virus and I suppose other areas didn’t really do that so you had Kinvara kind of standing out really from the rest of the crowd.
“I think from a Kinvara perspective, it was important that it was made known that there was positive cases in the area to try and get the message across to stop coming out of your house, to try and start social distancing at that time. I suppose it wasn’t really happening and they closed the GAA pitch and they closed off all training very early on.”
Whelan, an English and History teacher in Ballygar, says that there are no new cases in Kinvara and attributes that to the community’s “proactive” response to social distancing.
“Definitely, I think it was a community effort. The people of Kinvara have been very proactive in their attempts to try and ensure social distancing is in place. Our GAA pitch was shut off straight away before any other one and all training, collective training, was stopped straight away.
“I think ultimately the plan was to try and start social distancing before it became a norm and to try and ensure…okay one family has this virus but for it not to spread around the rest of the town and thankfully we were successful in doing that.
“It’s just important that in Kinvara and further afield people continue to do that. We need to try and flatten the curve and stop the numbers. Sport and all that can be talked about and it’s obviously very important but people’s lives are at risk and I think younger people don’t understand the importance of social distancing.
“They think they’re immune, they’re fit, they’re healthy but ultimately if they come home and give it to their parents and elderly people those are the people who are at serious risk. Thankfully in Kinvara, we seem to have a good hold on that.”
While the current ban on all GAA activity means Whelan does not know when he will return to action with Galway, his main concern through these uncertain times are with his students, especially those sitting exams who have been “left in limbo.”
“Obviously the school has been shut down and there’s no real clear sight as to when it’ll be back. So I suppose the number one priority in the school at the moment is exam students. Leaving Cert students, obviously, it’s a very difficult time for them.
“They’re kind of left in the unknown I suppose really. Having just been in the school, it’s very disappointing for teachers who have put in a lot of work over the last number of years to have their students left in limbo now and not be sure if exams are going to be done and stuff so that’s a very difficult time for students as well.
“You would feel a lot of empathy towards students who were kind of left in limbo and they’re all studying away but no more than myself now, they didn’t know when or if there’s going to be an exam or what’s going to happen. My number one priority there wouldn’t really be myself. I think that’ll all be sorted out. I think it’s more the students that should be the focus really, ensuring that everyone gets a fair chance.”
Galway hurler Conor Whelan, pictured at the Patrick Bourke Menswear ‘Kings Of The Game’ campaign launch.
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