The first case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus has been confirmed in Ireland
The Department of Health said on Wednesday that the new Covid-19 strain had been found after the sequencing of a number of suspect samples.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly had warned in recent days, as concern about the new variant spread across the world, that it was likely to already be in Ireland.
The case, the department confirmed, is associated with travel from one of the countries the Irish Government has recently imposed travel restrictions on.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin confirmed the discovery to TDs in the Dail on Wednesday.
In a statement, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan 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.
“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 November 1 you should isolate and present for PCR testing regardless of symptom status.
“The key focus for all of us must be to continue to suppress 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 suppress transmission of the Delta variant and we are optimistic that they will work against the Omicron variant.”
Mr Martin confirmed in the Dail that a case of the variant has been found in Ireland.
“There is one case has been confirmed and the CMO (Chief Medical Officer) has issued a statement in respect of that. So one case has been confirmed from those S-gene deletion cases.
“In that context, obviously, we will keep the economic support interventions under review,” he said.
The rates for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme rates are being reduced from Wednesday, as part of Government plans to wind the scheme down.
The Government confirmed on Tuesday evening that new rules on travel will take effect from Friday in a bid to stop the spread of the Omicron variant.
Anyone who has recently recovered from Covid-19 or is fully vaccinated is now required to show proof of a certified negative antigen test 48 hours before arrival or a negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival.
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