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virus variant New Covid strain responsible of 25pc of new cases, covid committee told

The new variant, which emerged in England before Christmas, resulted in the Government banning all flights from Britain.

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin (Photo: Tom Honan/PA Wire)

Taoiseach Micheál Martin (Photo: Tom Honan/PA Wire)

Taoiseach Micheál Martin (Photo: Tom Honan/PA Wire)

A variant of the coronavirus originating in England has been found in 25pc of recent positive cases in Ireland, the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 has been told.

The new variant, which emerged in England before Christmas, resulted in the Government banning all flights from Britain.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also said the new variant is one of the reasons the Government was forced re-impose restrictions during the Christmas period.

However, the chair of Nphet’s Expert Advisory Group Dr Cillian de Gascun contradicted the Taoiseach’s claim.

On Twitter, Dr de Gascun said the variant is “not responsible for the recent significant and concerning increase” in new Covid cases in Ireland.

He said the variant was only in 10pc of samples tested. Dr de Gascun noted his conclusion was from a small sample of 160 cases.

However, he was criticised by the President of the Royal College of Physicians Ireland Mary Horgan who said the sample side was too small to make a conclusion.

At today’s Cabinet committee meeting party leaders and ministers were told the latest figures show 25pc of new cases are a results of the variant.

The variant spread rapidly in England and resulted in Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday introducing sweeping restrictions including closing all schools and issuing a stay at home order.

The Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 is meeting to discuss the escalating situation with the disease here which led to more than 6,000 new cases being recorded yesterday.

The HSE said today more than 800 patients are in hospital after being effected by the virus and there is serious concerns about the impact the rise in cases will have on the health service.

The Government is expected to impose new restrictions in Ireland.


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