Estimated 11% of all Covid cases now due to the Omicron variant, CMO says

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) has today been notified of 4,688 confirmed cases of Covid-19 nationally.
Estimated 11% of all Covid cases now due to the Omicron variant, CMO says

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at the Department of Health, Dr Tony Holohan, has said it is estimated that 11 percent of all Covid cases are now due to the Omicron variant, an increase from less than 1 percent only one week ago. Photograph: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at the Department of Health, Dr Tony Holohan, has said it is estimated that 11 percent of all Covid cases are now due to the Omicron variant, an increase from less than 1 percent only one week ago.

Latest figures show more than 7,000 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Cork in the two weeks to December 9.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) has today been notified of 4,688 confirmed cases of Covid-19 nationally.

As of 8am, 518 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 108 are in ICU.

The Department of Health said it could confirm that eight additional cases of the Omicron variant have been detected, bringing to 18 the total number of cases that have been identified following whole genome sequencing.

“Possible Omicron cases can be identified by the number of PCR results with 'S gene target failure' - just as we did when the alpha variant emerged a year ago,” Dr Holohan said.

“Using this methodology, we estimate that 11% of cases are now due to the Omicron variant, an increase from less than 1% only one week ago.

“While evidence on disease severity and immune escape is still emerging, it is clear this variant is more transmissible. 

“We are hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.

“Over the coming days and weeks global health authorities will learn more about this variant and the risks it poses.

“In the meantime, we continue to have confidence in the basic measures to reduce transmission,” he continued.

The news comes as the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) issued new recommendations in relation to Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, which have been accepted by the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.

Included in these, NIAC has recommended that the interval between the primary vaccine series and booster dose should be reduced to three months.

The committee also recommended a booster (fourth dose) of an mRNA vaccine no sooner than three months after their third dose for those who are immunocompromised and for whom a third dose had been previously recommended as part of an extended vaccine schedule.

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