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Covid Ireland: Minister for Health ‘deeply concerned’ about new super-variant after surge in Africa

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The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is “deeply concerned” about a new variant of Covid-19 that has surged in South Africa.

The B.1.1.529 variant, expected to be renamed Nu in the coming days, has caused a spike in positive tests in the African country.

This has led to the UK shutting down all flights from six African countries to try and stop it from entering the region.

Here, the Department of Health has said that they are monitoring the status of the variant.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “The Department of Health has, in recent days, been monitoring the emergence of a new variant (B.1.1.529), of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This variant has been identified in a number of countries in southern Africa and in Hong Kong.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) is meeting tomorrow to further assess the significance of this variant. The WHO has not yet designated this variant as a variant of concern.

“The ECDC has reported that it continues to monitor all emerging evidence in relation to this variant.

“The Department is aware of measures taken by the Government of the United Kingdom including the suspension of flights from a number of African countries.

“No cases of this variant have been reported in Europe to date, but the Minister for Health is deeply concerned.

“The Department has been in contact with colleagues in Northern Ireland and we will continue to liaise with UK authorities.

“The Department’s advice to the Minister will continue to be informed by relevant guidance emanating from the ECDC and the WHO.”



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