Twenty more people have died and 8,248 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed this evening.
Of the cases notified today 3,013 are in Dublin, but there has been another record number of cases in Cork with 1,374 confirmed. There are also 538 in Limerick, 314 in Kildare, 310 in Donegal and the remaining 2,699 cases are spread across all other counties.
As of 2pm today, 1,180 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 109 are in ICU. There have been 116 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: “Three cases of a new variant of Covid-19 recently identified in South Africa have been confirmed in Ireland today by whole genome sequencing. All of the cases identified are directly associated with recent travel from South Africa.
“We are particularly advising healthcare workers travelling from South Africa, that it is essential that they self-isolate for 14 days before entering/re-entering the workplace.
“While this variant has not yet been identified in many European countries we believe the identification here reflects the extent of genome sequencing surveillance in Ireland.”
Dr Cillian De Gascun, Medical Virologist and Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, said; “The ECDC Assessment states that preliminary analyses indicate that the South African variant is associated with a heightened viral load and may have increased transmissibility. It also states that there is no evidence to date that this variant is associated with higher severity of infection.
“There is currently not enough information available to determine whether this variant poses a possible risk related to vaccine match and effectiveness. The antigenic characterisation of this new variant is ongoing, and results are expected in the coming weeks.”