Not known if any cases of Omicron variant in Ireland

Not known if any cases of Omicron variant in Ireland

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said a lot of Covid-19 testing is carried out in Ireland, and so far Omicron has not been picked up. Photograph: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

A Government minister has said it is not known if there are any cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus in Ireland.

The variant has been identified in countries across Europe including the UK, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong since it was first reported to the World Health Organisation by South Africa on Wednesday.

It has prompted new measures on travel to be introduced in Ireland and many other countries across the world.

However the common travel area between the UK and Ireland is so far exempt from the measures.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said a lot of Covid-19 testing is carried out in Ireland, and so far Omicron has not been picked up.

“We won’t know the real impact of this for a number of weeks; it will take two or three weeks to see does it increase transmissibility, does it increase illness or can it get round vaccines,” he told RTÉ’s The Week In Politics programme.

“It means that while we’re waiting for that scientific evidence that we double down to tackle the Delta variant … that hasn’t gone away, there are still 5,000 people a day getting infected in our country so it shouldn’t distract from doing the basic things that we have been doing well to get those numbers down.” A further 3,735 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland on Sunday.

At 8am on the same day, there were 566 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 117 were in intensive care.

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