NPHET Considering Measures to Combat Omicron Variant

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The National Public Health Emergency Team has been holding meetings over the weekend to discuss how best to deal with the Omicron variant of COVID.

Having emerged in Southern Africa earlier this month, the variant has now spread to Europe, with the UK, Italy, Belgium and Germany all reporting cases.

Omicron has yet to be detected in any Irish positive cases.

With the World Health Organisation designating Omicron a "variant of concern," NPHET are "currently considering further required measures" to prevent the variant's spread in Ireland.

NPHET is expected to recommend that anyone who arrives from Southern Africa should quarantine for 10 days on arrival, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not. Two negative tests must be produced during the quarantine period. Such travellers must also take a PCR test before boarding any flights to Ireland.

A reintroduction of mandatory hotel quarantine is "being examined on a contingency basis" according to NPHET. Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan is urging the government to reintroduce this measure. Donnelly says he will be bringing legislation to the Oireachtas regarding this measure early next week.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is now advising travellers to avoid non-essential travel to the Southern African nations of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

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