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new strain Three cases of 'double mutant' Indian strain of Covid-19 found in Ireland 

Two of the cases are as a result of travel and the third is still under investigation.

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Drive through coronavirus swab test. Stock image

Drive through coronavirus swab test. Stock image

Drive through coronavirus swab test. Stock image

Three cases of the new Indian strain of coronavirus were detected in Ireland yesterday, it has been confirmed.

Two of the cases are as a result of travel and the third is still under investigation.

India was added to the UK’s red-list countries for mandatory hotel quarantine after cases of the variant were found there too.

It is still unclear if a similar decision on India will be made here.

Dr Cillian De Gascun of the National Virus Reference Laboratory said there was no real world evidence yet that this particular variant was more infectious or more deadly.

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Dr Cillian de Gascun. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Cillian de Gascun. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Cillian de Gascun. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin


There are anxieties around the variant because of the surge of infection currently in India.

However, he said it was not clear if the variant was causing the surge or riding it.

He stressed the need for vigilance.

It is a “double mutant” version of the virus, which he said is “not terribly helpful” from a virus perspective.

So far 55 cases of the South African variant have been detected here.

The other variant of concern – the P1 variant from Brazil – now accounts for 24 cases sequenced here.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the way the Indian variant has been described in various online reports would lead you to think the “world was coming to an end”, but the speculation was inflated and not related to the real-world experience so far.

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Meanwhile, pregnant women have been advised to make their own choice whether to take a Covid-19 vaccine as it emerged three expectant mothers are very unwell in intensive care after catching the virus.

The women are being treated for complications of Covid-19, which is known to be more dangerous if caught during pregnancy.

Dr Peter McKenna, head of the National Women and Infants Health Programme in the HSE, said no pregnant woman has died due to the virus.

Commenting on whether they should take the Covid-19 vaccine, he said pregnant women were not involved in trials but there is accumulating evidence around its safety.

Currently the advice is that it be taken by women with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, but it is not routinely recommended.

He said whether to take the vaccine when offered is a “personal choice” for each pregnant woman.

“They should assess their own individual risk and decide along those lines,” Dr McKenna added.

He said there was still a lot of coronavirus circulating and public health measures continue to apply to pregnant women.

He was speaking as the Department of Health reported no new deaths but a further 403 new cases.

Separately, commenting on the Covid-19 situation here currently, Dr Glynn said there was ongoing improvement across all age groups but it will be weeks yet before enough people are vaccinated to take the burden from people to follow public health measures.

Public health doctors are reporting outbreaks in different households meeting up and cases where children who have symptoms are going to school, he added.

GPs are still seeing high levels of virus and cases are still at the level they were in November when the country was worried about the extent of spread.

He pointed out the average number of close contacts people have had remained around 2.6 for several weeks but if they rise to three or four the virus will start to spread again.

There should be better indications later this week on the impact construction and the reopening schools have had on virus levels.

Meanwhile, maternity hospitals are due to review restrictions around partners and visiting in light of the improvements here.

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