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Vicious virus New Covid-19 variant not behind spike in cases, top Irish virologist says

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21/12/2020 Dr Cillian De Gascun, Medical Virologist and Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory pictured this evening (Monday 21st December) at a Covid -19 update press conference at the Department of Health.....Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

21/12/2020 Dr Cillian De Gascun, Medical Virologist and Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory pictured this evening (Monday 21st December) at a Covid -19 update press conference at the Department of Health.....Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Colin Keegan

21/12/2020 Dr Cillian De Gascun, Medical Virologist and Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory pictured this evening (Monday 21st December) at a Covid -19 update press conference at the Department of Health.....Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

A TOP virologist has said that the new variant of the coronavirus is not behind the huge spike in cases. 

As the daily positive cases hit another record on Friday Dr Cillian De Gascun said testing showed the new variant was found in less than 10 per cent of positive samples.

He said in tweets that tests of SARS CoV2 samples dating from December 23rd to 29th found nine more UK variant cases in Ireland.

It brings to the total number of the new variant to 16 out of 169 analysed samples.

“Samples tested were from last weekend, so acquisition of infection likely around December 12th-14th,” he wrote.

“As a random, albeit small, selection of cases primarily from the community, these data would suggest that the SARSCoV2 UK variant - at a proportion of <10% - is not responsible for the recent significant and concerning increase in SARSCoV2 case numbers,” headed.

The virologist who is a member of the National Emergency Public Health Team advising the government, also urged to stay at home and stick to the current guidelines.

There is growing concern about the level of new cases with chief medical Dr Tony Holohan warning: "Our health system will not continue to cope with this level of impact."

The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population in Ireland went from 87 at the beginning of December to 321.3 at the end of the month.

Another 1,754 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on Friday night, but due to reporting delays, more than 9,000 additional new cases will be recorded in the coming days.

This morning at 8am there were 581 people are in hospital with Covid-19, according to figures published on the government data hub.

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