Omicron variant likely already in Ireland, says public health expert 1 month ago

Omicron variant likely already in Ireland, says public health expert

NPHET is meeting regularly across the weekend to monitor the situation and discuss potential new measures.

The new Omicron variant of Covid-19 is "probably" already in Ireland, according to a public health expert.

Advertisement

Speaking to Newstalk on Sunday, Professor Anthony Staines said that while no case of the Omicron variant has been detected in Ireland as of yet, this is more likely to a lack of genetic sequencing than it not being present at all.

Staines, who is a Professor of Health Systems at Dublin City University, said that Omicron is "probably here already".

"We don't have a very substantial genetic sequencing programme in Ireland," he explained.

"So, we were sequencing around 10% of our cases, which is not really enough to be confident about whether it’s here or not."

The first two cases of the Omicron variant in the UK were detected on Saturday.

Shortly after that news was confirmed by UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new measures designed to "slow down the seeding" of the new variant.

Anyone who enters the United Kingdom will be required to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, according to the latest restrictions.

Advertisement

However, it has since been clarified that this will not apply to anyone travelling within the Common Travel Area (CTA) and thus anyone travelling from Ireland to the UK will will not be required to take a PCR test or quarantine upon arrival.

"Current rules for travel within the Common Travel Area (CTA) remain unchanged," noted a statement issued by the British Embassy.

"No Covid-19 test or quarantine is required if travelling within CTA and not outside of CTA in previous 10 days."

It is understood that the National Public Health and Emergency Team (NPHET) is meeting regularly across the weekend to consider potential new measures to tackle the Omicron variant in Ireland.