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“variant of concern” Cases of Indian variant rise to 35 here as questions about its threat level remain

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Dr Tony Holohan offered encouragement for vaccinated people. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Dr Tony Holohan offered encouragement for vaccinated people. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Tony Holohan

Tony Holohan

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Dr Tony Holohan offered encouragement for vaccinated people. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

The number of cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19, which is driving clusters of infection in parts of the UK, has risen to 35 here .

It has been designated a “variant of concern” since earlier this week following a decision by the World Health Organisation (Who) to add it to the list on the grounds that the mutated strain – officially known as B.1.617.2 – is more infectious than previous versions of the virus.

New figures from the HSE yesterday showed 35 cases of the Indian variant have been discovered here, up from 20 at the end of last month.

HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said there was no complacency here about the variant, and so far there is some evidence it is easier to catch. However, it is unclear if it is more virulent or resistant to vaccines.

No one could accuse this country of being relaxed about variants, he insisted.

“It’s early days yet,” Dr Henry said, adding that the “pain and suffering” of mandatory hotel quarantine was designed to prevent these variants coming here.

Some of the fears generated by foreign variants of the virus do not seem to have materialised, he said, and vaccine manufacturers are tweaking their jabs to cover them.

No Covid-19 deaths were reported yesterday, while 456 new cases of the virus were diagnosed.

Dr Henry said that while cases remain high, they are no longer translating into significant levels of illness, hospitalisations and deaths.

Yesterday’s figures show as many as 81pc of new infections were in people aged under 45. It is unclear how many were asymptomatic, where they had the infection but no ill-effects.

However, it remains a risk, and there were 11 hospitalisations with Covid-19 in the 24 hours up to yesterday morning.

The numbers overall in hospital with Covid-19 fell to 111, with 36 in intensive care.

Kildare overtook Donegal this week for the highest 14-day incidence.

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said there has been a fall in the rate of the virus in Donegal thanks to the strong response from people there.

Figures released last week showed Newbridge in Co Kildare was among the top hotspots for infection, with a rate of 484 per 100,000.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said yesterday that “our key objective remains to follow the public health advice in our daily activities as we continue to chart our way through this pandemic”.

“I encourage people who have been vaccinated to safely resume your lives, mindful of the guidelines,” he added.

“For those awaiting vaccination, the many choices we make to stick with the public health advice will keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”

Yesterday’s cases included 189 in Dublin, 52 in Cork, 49 in Donegal, 39 in Kildare, 17 in Galway, with the remaining cases spread across other counties.


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