Breaking: First case of Omicron Covid variant identified in Ireland

Recent positive cases in Ireland have been reviewed by researchers, with "a number of samples" containing potential markers for the Omicron variant
Breaking: First case of Omicron Covid variant identified in Ireland

One of the eight samples sequenced was positively identified as the B.1.1.529 variant, known as Omicron. Picture: Brian Lawless.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has officially been notified of a case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in Ireland. 

The news was released this afternoon by the Department of Health, which said that a recent review of positive cases arising in the country since September 30 identified "a number" of positive samples with S-gene target failure, a potential marker for Omicron.

Of the eight samples sequenced, one was positively identified as the B.1.1.529 variant, known as Omicron.

The case is associated with travel from a 'scheduled State' where the variant has already been detected.

Scheduled states include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

“The NPHET Epidemiological Surveillance Team has been meeting regularly over the course of the last week to monitor the situation relating to the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 and, today, we are confirming that one case has been identified in Ireland," said chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.

"The Government has announced updated travel measures for all passengers travelling to Ireland from scheduled States. 

"In the first instance, the current advice remains that all non-essential travel to or from these states should be avoided.

“If you have travelled from any of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa or Zimbabwe to Ireland since November 1, you should isolate and present for PCR testing, regardless of symptom status."

The news comes as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, with more than 6,900 cases reported in Cork in the two weeks to November 25.

“The key focus for all of us must be to continue to supress the current wave of infection that is driven by the Delta variant of Covid-19," Dr Holohan said.

"We know how to break the chains of transmission of this virus. 

"The measures with which we are all so familiar have worked against previous variants of Covid-19, they can successfully supress transmission of the Delta variant and we are optimistic that they will work against the Omicron variant.” 

The NPHET Epidemiological Surveillance Team are continuing to monitor the situation and will provide advice on an ongoing basis.

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