Jonathan McCambridge, PA
A small number of cases of a new variant of the Omicron strain of Covid-19 have been discovered in Northern Ireland, public health officials said.
The new form of the virus, known as Omicron XE, is a recombinant of the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variants.
A spokesperson for the Public Health Agency said: “A total of 1,179 cases of XE have been confirmed in the UK so far.
“To date a small number of confirmed cases (fewer than five) have been detected in Northern Ireland.
“All appropriate health actions have been carried out.”
The spokesperson added: “Recombinant variants are not an unusual occurrence, particularly when there are several variants in circulation, and several have been identified over the course of the pandemic to date.
“The best way to stop variants developing or spreading is to keep pushing down infection rates and the transmission of the virus in our community.
“By sticking to public health advice, getting vaccinated, wearing face coverings in busy indoor environments where ventilation is poor, and particularly when visiting hospitals and other health and care settings and when around people they know to be vulnerable, we can all play a role in tackling Covid-19.”