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Taoiseach says Ireland is facing a 'new wave of Covid' but there is no need for restrictions

The HSE said that the variant is more transmissible than other strains, but there is no evidence suggesting that it causes more serious illness.

LAST UPDATE | Aug 9th 2023, 4:49 PM

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said that Ireland is facing “a new wave of Covid” with increased cases and hospitalisations, but that he doesn’t anticipate there being any need for restrictions to be brought in. 

Speaking from Belfast today, he said that we are in a “very different place than we were when Covid started”. 

Varadkar downplayed concerns about the spread of the Eris variant, which has now been detected in Ireland, as he pointed to the population’s “built up immunity” from vaccinations, and previous Covid-19 waves. 

“A huge amount of immunity is built up because people have had the virus and survived it, and recovered from it. 

“It’s not something we are complacent about in the slightest but it is a new virus, a virus that we’re going to have to live with, and there will be waves of infection, just like there is with the flu virus,” the Taoiseach added. 

The HSE today confirmed that the Eris variant of Covid-19 has been detected in Ireland. 

The health service said that the variant is more transmissible than previous strains and has been detected in relation to outbreaks in Irish hospitals, and in other settings. 

The variant, which is one of a group descendant from the Omicron strain that has contributed to a surge in Covid-19 cases in different places around the world, was detected at the end of last month in England, and quickly spread. 

The HSE noted that there is no evidence suggesting that the variant causes a more severe form of illness. 

The health service has also reiterated that unless people are in a specific risk group or setting, they will not be tested for Covid-19 unless a GP or healthcare advises that they should be. 

The current advice is to stay at home if you have Covid symptoms until at least 48 hours after they have ended. 

Professor of Immunology Christine Loscher told The Journal that a mixture of waning immunity from past infections and vaccinations amongst the public, a greater level of outdoor travel and an increase in indoor socialising due to the bad weather are all factors contributing to a current rise in Covid-19 cases in hospitals at present. 

The World Health Organisation has upgraded Eris to a variant of “interest”, and has stated that it may become the dominant strain of the virus globally. 

However, the WHO at present has categorised the public health risk of the Eris variant as low, as there is no evidence to suggest that it is causing people to become more seriously ill. 

There are currently 408 cases of the virus in hospital, which is over three times the level of hospitalised cases just a fortnight ago. 

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has called for a review of infection control measures in hospitals, care homes and other healthcare settings as several hospital in Kerry, Kilkenny and Galway have made changes to visitation and mask wearing protocols in light of outbreaks. 

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