Six cases of Omicron variant detected, 4,022 new Covid cases

As of 8am, 530 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 115 are in intensive care units
Six cases of Omicron variant detected, 4,022 new Covid cases

James Cox

The Department of Health has confirmed that five additional cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 have been detected in Ireland, bringing the total number of cases of the variant to six.

The first case of the Omicron variant in Ireland was identified on December 1st and the second was confirmed earlier this evening.

The cases of the variant, first identified in South Africa, were confirmed following genome sequencing.

Meanwhile, a further 4,022 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the State today. As of 8am, 530 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 115 are in intensive care units.

Dominant strain

Speaking at the weekly HSE Covid-19 briefing, chief executive Paul Reid said that he expected Omicron to become more dominant in Ireland. He said it is still unknown when this would happen, however, the HSE is putting preparations in place.

“We expect it is only a matter of time before we are looking at significant numbers of cases of Omicron. We expect it to become more dominant. The timeframe is unknown,” he said.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "There are now six confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Ireland. A number of other probable cases are under investigation. Although this is a new variant, our early understanding gives us confidence that a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine will offer good protection against Omicron and Delta infection.

"Our current wave of disease continues to be driven by the Delta variant of Covid-19. We know that the public health measures we are so familiar with will break the chains of transmission of Delta, and we are confident they will work on Omicron.

"Please continue to layer up on the public health advice by getting vaccinated and boosted, reducing contacts, wearing masks, keeping distance, opening windows and cleaning hands regularly."

Walk-in vaccination centres

Dr Holohan added: "It is heartening to see the large numbers of people who attended walk-in vaccination centres today to receive their Covid-19 booster dose as soon as it became available to them.

"If you are eligible for a booster dose, then please do not wait until after Christmas to receive it. You will begin to receive the benefit of your booster protection within seven days of receiving your third dose. This means that anybody who receives their booster vaccine this week or next can be confident in the protection the booster will offer as we move closer to the Christmas period.

"If you are yet to receive a primary dose of Covid-19 vaccine, please make arrangements to do so. The HSE will be very happy to see you. If you have any concerns about receiving your Covid-19 vaccine, I encourage you to engage with the trusted health advice available on www.hse.ie, and with your own clinician.”

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