First case of Omicron variant identified in Ireland

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the focus must remain on suppressing the current wave of infections in Ireland.
First case of Omicron variant identified in Ireland

James Cox

Updated: 12.50pm

A case of the Covid-19 Omicron variant has been detected in Ireland.

The news was confirmed at a National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) briefing on Wednesday after a batch of eight cases were subjected to genetic sequencing to determine their strain.

It is understood the case was travel-related and was detected in a person who travelled to the State from a designated country last week.

The Department of Health said: "A review of positive cases arising since 30 September 2021 identified a number of positive SARS-CoV-2 samples found to have S-gene target failure (SGTF, a potential marker for Omicron)."

The department added the case was "identified in real time and is associated with travel from one of the scheduled States".

The scheduled States are the countries from which passengers arriving into Ireland are subject to increased travel restrictions, with the Government discouraging travel to and from these destinations. The seven countries designated as scheduled States are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe.

Confirming the news at lunchtime on Wednesday, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the key focus must remain on suppressing the current wave of infections in Ireland, which is being driven by the Delta variant.

"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 suppress transmission of the Delta variant and we are optimistic that they will work against the Omicron variant,"Dr Holohan added.

He confirmed Nphet's epidemiological surveillance team will continue to monitor the situation in relation to the Omicron variant, providing advice as necessary to the CMO.

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