A Clare native infectious diseases expert believes it will be ‘weeks’ before further concrete data on the Omicron variant of COVID-19 emerges.
It comes as NPHET officials will meet the coalition party leaders tonight to discuss the spread of the new strain of the virus.
Meanwhile, the cancelling of plans for subsidised antigen testing has been described as a dereliction of duty by opposition parties.
The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said this morning it’s likely Omicron is already in Ireland and it’s put a question mark over whether or not there can be a meaningful Christmas.
It’s thought the new variant could be spreading in parts of Scotland, with six cases identified there, some of which aren’t linked to foreign travel.
The heads of the three Government parties will meet with NPHET officials tonight to discuss the situation.
A mandate for over nines and children in third class and above to wear masks in shops, schools and on public transport is likely to be approved by Cabinet tomorrow.
However, a Clare native infectious disease expert believes it will take time to assess what the full impact of Omicron will be.
Professor of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham, James McInerney says South Africa’s low vaccination rate compared to Ireland’s means more data needs to be gathered on what the full impact of the strain could be.
The possibility of broadening testing rules for passengers arriving into the country is being examined.
Passengers may be required to have a pre-departure PCR test, regardless of vaccination status, according to the Irish Times.
Professor of Immunovirology at UCC, Liam Fanning, doesn’t believe more restrictions are needed.
Meanwhile, the cancelling of plans for subsidised antigen testing has been described as a dereliction of duty.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed this morning government won’t subsidise the cost, saying the market had already stepped in to provide cheaper tests.
However, not all retailers are offering antigen tests at reduced costs.
Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall says it’s a big mistake:
Government sources say they’re not expecting new restrictions to be decided today, but will wait to hear the view of NPHET.