independent.ie– The Government leaders have been warned Ireland could be set to experience similar levels of the Omicron virus to rates currently being recorded in England.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) presented modelling to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Green Party leader on transmission of the new variant at a meeting in Government Buildings.
The new variant accounts for 20pc of all new cases of the virus in England and 44pc in London.
The Omicron variant currently accounts for around 14pc of all new cases in Ireland.
A source said after the meeting that the outlook for the spread of the new strain in Ireland will be similar to what is being experienced in Britain.
At the meeting the political leaders and Nphet officials discussed the need for people get their booster jabs and reduce their social contacts.
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Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan did not outline any plans for restrictions.
Nphet will meet on Thursday and decide what restrictions may be needed to stop transmission during the Christmas period.
The meeting was described as being a “constructive discussion”.
It comes as another 3,887 cases of Covid were confirmed, with 493 people in hospital and 109 in ICU.
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Dr Holohan said today’s figures suggested Omicron now accounts for about 14pc of Ireland’s cases.
“In line with the experience of many other countries, we can expect this proportion to rise rapidly over the coming days,” he said.
The briefing by Nphet came as a global health leader has warned a drive in transmission of the Omicron variant will “fill up the hospitals and the ICUs”.
Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of World Health Organisation (WHO) health emergencies programme, said even if Omicron turns out to be a milder disease, the rising number of cases will lead to more people in hospital.
Dr Ryan told an Irish Aid webinar, hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), that he is concerned about unvaccinated people in every country.
Speaking at the briefing, Dr Ryan said: “There’s no doubt that the rising number and the force of infection will generate more hospitalisations in the coming weeks, just the sheer weight of numbers will will generate that.
“What I’m most concerned about right now today, is the fact that there are unvaccinated people in every country, who are at high risk.
“People have moved away from applying even the most basic measures to protect themselves and others, be it government policy or individual behaviour, in terms of mask wearing, avoiding crowded places, in terms of handwashing, in terms of ventilated spaces, all of those issues.
“We are likely to drive transmission and have huge numbers of cases and even if Omicron turns out to be a milder disease, if we generate millions and millions and millions of cases, we will fill the hospitals up, we will fill the ICUs up.
“So we need to refocus on public health and social measures, vaccinate the unvaccinated.”