GP warns 'risk of Irish variant' is a 'real worry'

GP warns 'risk of Irish variant' is a 'real worry'

A GP has warned that increased Covid-19 infections in the country could see the virus mutate into an “Irish variant”.

The fight against the pandemic has been complicated by mutated strains of the virus that have emerged in the likes of the UK, South Africa, Brazil and India.

Donegal GP Martin Coyne told The Irish Times he was “not worried so much about numbers and the cohort that seems to be getting infected with us, I’m just worried about the potential this gives the virus to mutate”.

Donegal currently has the highest 14-day incidence in the State, with 251 cases per 100,000 people.

Dr Coyne said private gatherings were more of a risk in spreading the virus than cross-border travel.

“I do believe that we have to relax things, people can’t stick at this forever, so to allow somebody to travel outside their county, that’s fine, but just do it safely.

“You could be restricted to within 5km of your house but have a house party and mess everything up.”

Indian variant

Three cases of the Indian Covid-19 variant were confirmed in Ireland this week.

Two of the three cases are associated with travel, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) briefing heard on Monday.

Dr Cillian de Gascun, director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, said the three cases were identified last weekend.

“Public health investigations are ongoing, at least two of them are associated with travel, but there is more work ongoing at the moment,” he said.

“At this stage, as with all of these variants of interest, we need to remain vigilant, it’s important that we try and contain and control it locally but I suppose we probably still need more information and more evidence to give us an indication as to whether it is going to become a fourth variant of concern.”

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