Speaking to RTÉ this morning, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly acknowledged it was “likely” that the latest Covid variant of concern, named Omicron, is probably already in Ireland.
The variant emerged most notably in South Africa over the last few weeks, and cases have been detected throughout European countries. Donnelly said that there are a number of suspected cases of the new variant in Ireland awaiting sequencing and analysis.
Little is known for certain about the Omicron variant, such as its transmissibility, whether it is more resistant to vaccines, or whether it poses a greater danger of reinfection to those who have already had Covid.
Cabinet is set to meet tomorrow and will discuss the government’s response to the Omicron variant, but RTÉ has reported that new restrictions are not likely to be introduced at this time.
3,735 new cases of Covid were confirmed yesterday, and 117 people are currently receiving intensive care.