Stephen Donnelly "concerned" over South African variant as EU and UK bans travel there
The variant hasn't spread to Europe.
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is "deeply concerned" after a new variant of Covid-19 has been discovered in South Africa after a surge in cases.
The B.1.1.529 variant, expected to be renamed Nu, has seen a huge spike in cases over the last number of weeks.
The EU and UK have both since shut down all flights to and from South Africa, as well as the UK also adding six different African countries to their red list to stop the spread of this new variant.
"The Commission will propose, in close coordination with Member States, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529," EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Friday morning.
The @EU_Commission will propose, in close coordination with Member States, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) November 26, 2021
The Department of Health in Ireland are now saying they are monitoring the status of the variant.
In a statement, a spokesperson said: "The Department of Health has, in recent days, been monitoring the emergence of a new variant (B.1.1.529), of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This variant has been identified in a number of countries in southern Africa and in Hong Kong.
"The World Health Organisation (WHO) is meeting tomorrow to further assess the significance of this variant. The WHO has not yet designated this variant as a variant of concern.
"The ECDC has reported that it continues to monitor all emerging evidence in relation to this variant."
The Government confirmed that they are watching closely to the UK's reaction to the new variant and it had led to some concern.
The spokesperson continued: "The Department is aware of measures taken by the Government of the United Kingdom including the suspension of flights from a number of African countries.
"No cases of this variant have been reported in Europe to date, but the Minister for Health is deeply concerned.
"The Department has been in contact with colleagues in Northern Ireland and we will continue to liaise with UK authorities.
"The Department’s advice to the Minister will continue to be informed by relevant guidance emanating from the ECDC and the WHO."