Dr Cillian De Gascun
Tests have confirmed that a case of the Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in Ireland.
The tests were conducted at the National Virus Reference Laboratory at UCD where director Dr Cillian de Gascun said that 14 samples were analysed over the weekend.
Eight of the samples underwent whole geneome sequencing and one of those eight was confirmed as having the Omicron variant on Tuesday.
Dr De Gascun said it is a travel-associated case to one of designated countries which have confirmed cases of Omicron.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the NPHET Epidemiological Surveillance Team will continue to monitor this situation and provide advice to the Chief Medical Officer on an ongoing basis.
So far, the European Centre for Disease Control has said that all cases of the variant found in Europe have been either mild cases, or in people with no symptoms.
The World Health Organization has said it will take several weeks to assess the threat posed by Omicron.
The confirmed case comes as the number people being treated in hospital for Covid-19 is down one today to 578, the latest figures show.
A statement by NPHET said:
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been notified of one case of the SARS-CoV-2 Variant B.1.1.529 (Omicron). 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).
One of the eight samples sequenced to date has been identified as B.1.1.529 (Omicron). The case was identified in real time and is associated with travel from one of the Scheduled States.
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health said: “The NPHET Epidemiological Surveillance Team has been meeting regularly over the course of the last week to monitor the situation relating to the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 and, today, we are confirming that one case has been identified in Ireland.
“The Government has announced updated travel measures for all passengers travelling to Ireland from Scheduled States*. In the first instance, the current advice remains that all non-essential travel to or from these states should be avoided. If you have travelled from any of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa or Zimbabwe to Ireland since 1 November you should isolate and present for PCR testing, regardless of symptom status. This can be booked for free on HSE.ie. If you are travelling to or from a Scheduled State for an essential purpose, you should continue to monitor www.gov.ie/travel for any further updates.
“The key focus for all of us must be to continue to supress the current wave of infection that is driven by the Delta variant of COVID-19. 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 supress transmission of the Delta variant and we are optimistic that they will work against the Omicron variant.”
The NPHET Epidemiological Surveillance Team will continue to monitor this situation and provide advice to the Chief Medical Officer on an ongoing basis.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.