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Ireland is experiencing a new wave of the virus

The World Health Organisation has identified a new coronavirus strain as a ‘variant of interest,’ despite authorities predicting a low public health risk.

The EG.5 or “Eris” variant is linked to an Omicron subvariant named XBB.1.9.2, and its incidence has been growing internationally, with the UK, China, and the United States emerging as the most affected.

However, the WHO has declared that the variation poses no special hazard. “Based on the available evidence, the public health risk posed by EG.5 is evaluated as low at the global level,” the agency stated, adding that the risk appeared to be shared by other circulating variants of interest.

According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, an early response is required to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals. Eris, a new, more transmissible variant, was discovered in the country last week.

“If there is a surge, mask wearing and community intervention will hopefully prevent more drastic restrictions,” said INMO General Secretary Edward Matthews.

In June, Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccination programme was discontinued for the summer. The programme will resume in the autumn under different guidelines.

A seasonal booster will be provided to people aged 50 or older, those aged five or older with a weakened immune system, those aged five to 49 with a disease that puts them at high risk of sickness from COVID-19, and healthcare workers.

As per data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Ireland is experiencing a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

There were 732 new confirmed cases in the week beginning August 6, a 13.7% rise over the previous week. The overall number of confirmed cases for 2023 now stands at 22,741.

The age group 75-84 had the highest number of cases (176). They accounted for 24% of cases.

Currently, hospital organisations are monitoring the new variant and acting on a case-by-case basis. There are currently no plans to implement general restrictions across hospital groups. However, as a result of COVID outbreaks, several hospitals had imposed restrictions on wards.

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