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New Omicron subvariants leading to increase in Covid-19 infections, health authorities say

However, the HSPC have said that there is no indication that the severity of the virus has changed.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE NUMBER OF Covid-19 cases in Ireland is continuing to rise, with health authorities saying the increasing transmission of the virus is due to new Omicron subvariants spreading throughout the country.

According to the latest Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) report, the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are replacing the previously dominant BA.2 variant, which spread across Ireland in early 2022.

The HSPC have said that these trends are being seen across Europe and it is likely due to their ability to evade previous immunity granted by both vaccination and prior infection.

“Similar increasing trends are being seen in several other countries across Europe as BA.4 and BA.5 become the dominant variants in circulation. This is likely due to their ability to evade immune protection caused by prior infection and/or vaccination, particularly if this immunity has waned over time,” reads the HSPC report.

The HSPC has also said that there is “currently no indication” of a change in the severity of the virus compared to previous Omicron subvariants.

The report also states that existing Covid-19 vaccines will remain effective in preventing serious illness against the new subvariants.

Between 12 and 18 June, there were 10,435 new cases of Covid-19 reported between 12 June and 18 June.

This is a 52.6% increase compared to the previous week, where there were 6,837 confirmed cases of Covid-19 notified.

The positivity rate for Covid-19 tests has also risen compared to the previous week, with 29.6% of PCR tests returning positive compared to 24.5%.

There were also 13,059 positive antigen tests reported through the HSE’s antigen test portal, compared to 8,808 cases the previous week.

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Hospitalisation data from the HSE shows that at 8am on Wednesday, there were 629 patients receiving treatment in hospital who had a confirmed case of Covid-19. 

The HSPC have also said that there is no indication of an increase in ICU admissions following the rise in cases.

“Patients in ICU with COVID-19 did increase slightly from a low for 2022 of 18 patients on 29th May, but have been stable with between 20 and 28 patients a day since 6 June,” reads the HSPC report.

“There is also no indicator of increased mortality, however, there can be a time-lag in the reporting of deaths on the Computerised Infectious Disease Reporting system (CIDR).”

About the author:

Tadgh McNally

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