EXPLAINER: Everything you need to know about the Omicron variant of Covid-19
The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is official in Ireland according the the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
The Department of Health issued confirmation.
"The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been notified of one case of the SARS-CoV-2 Variant B.1.1.529 (Omicron). A review of positive cases arising since 30 September 2021 identified a number of positive SARS-CoV-2 samples found to have S-gene target failure (SGTF, a potential marker for Omicron).
"One of the eight samples sequenced to date has been identified as B.1.1.529 (Omicron). The case was identified in real time and is associated with travel from one of the Scheduled States," it said.
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health commented on the emergence of the variant.
“The NPHET Epidemiological Surveillance Team has been meeting regularly over the course of the last week to monitor the situation relating to the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 and, today, we are confirming that one case has been identified in Ireland.
“The Government has announced updated travel measures for all passengers travelling to Ireland from Scheduled States*. In the first instance, the current advice remains that all non-essential travel to or from these states should be avoided. If you have travelled from any of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa or Zimbabwe to Ireland since 1 November you should isolate and present for PCR testing, regardless of symptom status. This can be booked for free on HSE.ie. If you are travelling to or from a Scheduled State for an essential purpose, you should continue to monitor www.gov.ie/travel for any further updates.
“The key focus for all of us must be to continue to supress the current wave of infection that is driven by the Delta variant of COVID-19. We know how to break the chains of transmission of this virus. The measures with which we are all so familiar have worked against previous variants of COVID-19, they can successfully supress transmission of the Delta variant and we are optimistic that they will work against the Omicron variant,” he said.
The statement added that the NPHET Epidemiological Surveillance Team will continue to monitor this situation and provide advice to the Chief Medical Officer on an ongoing basis.
Current advice is to avoid all non-essential travel to or from scheduled States.
In response to cases of the new variant SARS-CoV-2 Variant B.1.1.529 (Omicron), Ireland discourages travel to and from the following scheduled States:
Since 29 November 2021, restrictions on travel to the State are imposed on passengers that have been in a scheduled State.
Such persons shall not travel to, or attempt to travel to, the State for the period of 14 days after they were last in a specified State.
A limited number of exemptions to this will apply, such as:
All travellers from a scheduled State are required to quarantine at home for 14 days, from date of arrival, at the address declared on the Passenger Locator Form (PLF).
Individuals may only leave the address for an emergency, to leave the State, or to take a COVID-19 RT-PCR test.
Post arrival RT-PCR testing is required for all passengers from a scheduled State at day 2 and day 8 without exemptions. The Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) will contact passengers to arrange PCR testing using the details they provided on the Passenger Locator Form (PLF).
Those who are already in the country having arrived from any scheduled State since 1 November are asked to present for RT-PCR testing. This can be booked free of charge on www.HSE.ie
If your post arrival RT-PCR tests have returned negative, you may leave home quarantine at day 10 following arrival from a scheduled State. Should a test return positive, the passenger is required to home quarantine for 10 days from the date of the positive test.
From 30 November all travellers from a scheduled State are required to have a negative ('not detected') RT-PCR test result taken 72 hours prior to arrival to Ireland. This is irrespective of vaccination/recovery status.
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