6 cases of Omicron variant confirmed with 4,022 new Covid-19 cases

Carlow continues to have the highest Covid-19 infections rates in the county

A total of six cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 have been detected in Ireland.

The Department of Health has also confirmed 4,022 new coronavirus cases this evening (Thursday).

Five new instances of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 have been confirmed to bring the total in Ireland to six.

Studies have suggested Omicron is more transmissible than other Covid strains, and a booster may be needed for full protection.

530 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 115 are in ICU.

For the eighth HPSC report in a row Carlow has the highest Covid-19 infections.

Latest figures for the county show a 14-day incidence rate of 2,276 per 100,000 population up to midnight on Wednesday.

Westmeath are the next nearest on 1,840.

Nearly 1,300 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Carlow in the past two weeks.

Kilkenny has seen a higher number of cases at 1,405, but has a lower incidence rate because of the bigger population.

CMO Dr Tony Holohan, said: “There are now six confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Ireland. A number of other probable cases are under investigation. Although this is a new variant, our early understanding gives us confidence that a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine will offer good protection against Omicron and Delta infection.

“Our current wave of disease continues to be driven by the Delta variant of COVID-19. We know that the public health measures we are so familiar with will break the chains of transmission of Delta, and we are confident they will work on Omicron.

“Please continue to layer up on the public health advice by getting vaccinated and boosted, reducing contacts, wearing masks, keeping distance, opening windows and cleaning hands regularly.

“It is heartening to see the large numbers of people who attended walk-in vaccination centres today to receive their COVID-19 booster dose as soon as it became available to them.

“If you are eligible for a booster dose, then please do not wait until after Christmas to receive it. You will begin to receive the benefit of your booster protection within seven days of receiving your third dose. This means that anybody who receives their booster vaccine this week or next can be confident in the protection the booster will offer as we move closer to the Christmas period.”