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Indian variant of COVID-19 detected in Ireland; India is not yet on Ireland’s “red list”

DUBLIN: Three cases of the COVID-19 variant, first detected in India, have now been identified in Ireland. At yesterday’s NPHET briefing, health officials confirmed that so far three cases of the “Indian variant” have been identified in the Republic of Ireland.

According to Dr. Cillian De Gascun, Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory and Chair of the NPHET Coronavirus Expert Advisory Group, at least two of these three cases are travel-related.

However, the government has not yet made a clear decision on whether to include India in Ireland’s mandatory hotel quarantine list.

“We have a process in place which looks at all of the international data… and we will be reviewing data in relation to this mutation,” Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said. Dr. Glynn added that all vaccines are effective against the B117 variant, which is dominant in Ireland currently.

“It’s not that we’re not concerned, it’s not that we don’t need to remain vigilant but I would be concerned that people looking at some of the coverage of this internationally would feel a real sense of powerlessness,” acting CMO said. Dr. Glynn said that Ireland would continue to monitor variants and urged people to follow public health guidelines.

Dr. De Gascun noted that in a lab setting, the mutations in the ‘Indian variant’ were shown to possibly have an impact on ‘monoclonal antibodies’, but not in a real-world setting. ‘Monoclonal antibodies’ target a single site in a virus’s spike protein, while a ‘polyclonal antibodies’ target different regions in a virus’s spike protein.

“In the real world we have no evidence that they have an impact on vaccine escape. We don’t have any data at this stage that it’s more transmissible or likely to cause more severe disease,” De Gascun said. “At this stage it’s important we remain vigilant… but we still need more information and more evidence before it becomes a variant of concern,” he added.

UK added India to the “red list”

The UK government declared yesterday that India has been added to the “red list” as a precautionary measure in response to global concerns about India’s latest COVID-19 variant. The ban will take effect on Friday, April 23 from 4 pm.

Anyone who has started their journey from India within the last 10 days will not be admitted to the UK. However, holders of British or Irish passports and holders of UK residency are allowed to enter subject to conditions. But they have to be quarantined for 10 days in a government approved hotel.

So far, 103 cases of the ‘Indian variant,’ or B.1.617, have been identified in the UK, according to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

No deaths, 403 new cases confirmed yesterday

The Department of health has confirmed 403 new COVID-19 cases in Ireland yesterday. The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 243,911.

No new deaths were reported in the country yesterday. So the death toll remains at 4,836.

Of the cases notified yesterday, 174 cases were in registered Dublin, 34 in Meath, 20 in Kildare, 18 in Mayo, 16 in Cork and the remaining 141 cases are spread across the other 20 counties.

As of yesterday morning, 183 people were hospitalised with COVID-19, with 50 in ICU.

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