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massive rise Cases of Delta variant, first identified in India, expected to exceed 150 – a leap of 50 in one week

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Dr Tony Holohan told Health Minister Stephen Donnelly (pictured outside Dublin Castle) last week there is still a risk of a further spike in cases. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dr Tony Holohan told Health Minister Stephen Donnelly (pictured outside Dublin Castle) last week there is still a risk of a further spike in cases. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dr Tony Holohan told Health Minister Stephen Donnelly (pictured outside Dublin Castle) last week there is still a risk of a further spike in cases. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The number of detected cases of the more infectious variant of coronavirusis first identified in India is expected to exceed 150 today – a jump of over 50 since last week.

There is evidence it has entered the country in travellers coming here from India, the UK, Austria and the United State s in recent months.

The B16172 strain – rechristened ‘Delta’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – remains at relatively low levels here, but its potential impact on July reopenings , particularly around opening up foreign travel, is still unclear.

So far, it has been linked to clusters in Dublin and Cork.

However, the Covid-19 situation here appears stable for now, with 337 new cases of virus reported yesterday.

There were 89 Covid patients in hospital and a small drop in those in intensive care to 34.

The battle remains ongoing to increase the numbers who are fully vaccinated so that the virus runs out of people it can infect who risk falling seriously ill.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned last week there is still a risk of a further spike in Covid-19 case numbers, with a knock-on increase in hospitalisations.

He delivered the warning in his letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly on Wednesday in advance of last week’s announcements on reopening in June and July.

He said that “no assurance can be given that the Covid-19 disease profile will remain similar to that experienced over recent weeks”.

Modelling projections continue to suggest the easing of measures proposed in June, with a focus on outdoor activities, can be considered low to medium risk.

However, there are greater uncertainties in relation to the medium-term position and the impact of a greater level of indoor social mixing across the population.

Depending on the relative transmissibility of the UK variant, “modelling projections show there is still a risk of a further spike in case numbers, with a corresponding increase in hospitalisations”, he added.

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Seventy-nine per cent of new cases were in the under-45 age group and just 3pc were aged 65 years and older. The median age for cases notified in the same period is 27 years.

“The epidemiological situation in Ireland remains concerning, but is currently stable,” said Dr Holohan.

He added that the “cautious but progressive de-escalation of public health restrictions has not been associated with any significant increase in incidence of infection.

"Case counts remain relatively stable at 400-500 per day, while numbers in hospital and in intensive care are declining slowly, and there is a significant decrease in mortality.”

Caution should be exercised by those not fully vaccinated – limiting meetings indoors with unvaccinated people and avoiding crowded situations, he said

Separately , a surge of more than 840 cases of Covid-19 has been identified in the midwest region, including 740 plus cases in Limerick over the past two weeks or so.

It is linked to “high-risk social indoor activity, house parties, family and extended family gatherings as well as “multi-household clusters as a result of social mixing” and “poor and inconsistent infection prevention and control practices at workplaces”.

There is concern that some children are attending school with symptoms.

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