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Republic's new Covid wave driven by Omicron sub-variants

Sub-variants of Omicron are driving a rise in Covid cases in the Republic.
Paul Ainsworth

OMICRON sub-variants are behind a new wave of Covid-19 in the Republic, health experts have warned.

The Health Service Executive's chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said the new sub-variants were infecting people who had already had previous Covid variants such as BA.1 or Delta.

Speaking on RTÉ yesterday, Dr Henry said the new wave proved Covid was a "virus for all seasons" and that "uncertainty still remains" regarding the health service's ability to cope.

There were a total of 776 Covid inpatients in hospitals across the Republic yesterday, which was a rise of 25 from Tuesday. 31 were being treated in intensive care units - three more than the previous day.

Dr Henry said: "Because of these recent mutations with the surge in cases, it highlights the unpredictability of this virus, and that means we have to be ready for any surge in cases and that testing that would be required, be that PCR testing or antigen testing."

However, despite the rise in people requiring hospital treatment for Covid, Dr Henry said people were mostly not getting as sick as with previous variants.

Meanwhile, the Republic is to consider introducing new legislation on mandatory face coverings in the months ahead as a precautionary measure.

Finance minister Paschal Donohoe told RTÉ that the government "will look at whether that measure is needed later on in the year" should cases continue to worsen in the winter months.

However, he said the focus in the meantime would remain on encouraging vaccine booster uptake.

"I think 46 per cent of the population have now received a second booster, so that means there's over half who still haven't," Mr Donohoe said.

"So in particular, for those in their late 60s, for those who are immunocompromised, our message is please avail of the booster, because that is the greatest line of defence to the disease and getting very sick, impacting on your health and that of those who are near you."

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