THE NEW strain of Covid-19 has reached Ireland just one week after it was found in Kent.
Speaking earlier today Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan confirmed that the mutant strain was detected in University College Dublin’s National Virus Reference Laboratory.
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“I can confirm that we have detected the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 by whole genome sequencing at the National Virus Reference Laboratory’ in University College Dublin,” Dr Holohan said in a statement.
“Further testing in the coming days and weeks will establish the extent to which it is present here.
“In the meantime, it is vitally important that we each stay at home, avoid social contact and avoid all forms of non-essential travel.”
The samples tested were from last weekend meaning that the virus was likely to have been acquired around December 12-14.
The National Public Health Emergency Team today confirmed that there had been 1,025 new cases and two confirmed deaths.
The last time Ireland recorded daily cases over 1,000 was on October 25.
It comes after Ireland issued a travel ban stopping all flights and passenger ferry journeys arriving in from the UK.
The ban has been extended until December 31.
Ireland moved back into Level Five lockdown yesterday after the sharp rise in cases and will last until January 12.
The new “out of control” strain of Covid-19 was flagged to ministers on December 11.
As a response London and other areas were put into a new Tier 4.
Authorities have said the new variant is 70 per cent more infectious than the previous strain.
In a graphic released by the government today, the new variant can be seen to be responsible for a growing number of people testing positive for coronavirus.
In mid-November, the new strain accounted for 0.2 per cent of those testing positive for coronavirus – growing to 0.7 per cent by mid-December.
Meanwhile the initial strain has started to decrease.
Cases are up 57 per cent across the UK in just a week, thanks to the increased spread, while hospital admissions have soared.
The new strain’s scientific name is VUI 2020/01, with VUI standing for Variant Under Investigation.
Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire will be put into even tighter restrictions as a result of the mutant Covid – as Mr Hancock also announced an even MORE infectious new South African strain has been found in the UK.
Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Northamptonshire will go into Tier 3 too, and Cornwall and Hereforshire will be bumped up from Tier 1 to 2.
An additional six million people will be in Tier 4 of the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions from Boxing Day.
This means a total of 24 million people will now be in Tier 4, or 43 per cent of the population of England.
And Mr Hancock announced two cases have been detected of another new strain of the coronavirus in the UK.
He said: “Both are contacts of cases who have travelled from South Africa over the past few weeks.”
He added: “We are incredibly grateful to the South African government for the rigour of their science and the openness and the transparency with which they have rightly acted as we did when we discovered a new variant here.”