Omicron now accounts for more than one-quarter of Ireland’s new COVID cases, according to the Health Minister.
Genome sequencing now suggests that 27% of new cases are related to Omicron – a significant jump from last week when the variant made up just 1% of infections.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is meeting again this evening to discuss whether any new restrictions should be introduced ahead of Christmas.
Speaking in the Dáil, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said Omicron will be dominant in Ireland by next week.
“Last week, the Omicron variant made up about 1% of all new cases in Ireland,” he said.
“By the weekend, it had gone from 1% to 5%. By Tuesday, we were reporting 14% of new cases were now the Omicron variant and I can confirm to the House now that, as of today, it is 27% of all new cases.
“So, we have gone from 1% to 27% in about a week.”
He said a significant wave of cases is on the way in Ireland.
“WE know the variant is spreading rapidly and yesterday, the UK recorded its highest number of cases in one day since the pandemic began,” he said.
“We know it is going to result in an increase in cases very soon here in Ireland as well. The only question is, how high is that increase going to be.”
Despite the ongoing concern over the variant and the continuing high numbers of cases, hospitalisation and ICU figures have been steadily falling in recent days.
This morning, there were 443 COVID patients in Irish hospitals – down 16.5% on this day last week and the lowest number reported since mid-October.
There were 108 in ICU, which is seven fewer than last week.
On Newstalk yesterday, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he expected the health officials to recommend new restrictions on social mixing and new measures on social contacts.
He also suggested COVID testing rules for international travel could be relaxed; however, the Taoiseach later rejected the claim - insisting that testing was going to remain “very important” for both travel and socialising over Christmas.