IRELAND WILL NOT see the impact of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 for several weeks, according to Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan.
Ireland has not yet had any cases of the new variant, which has been deemed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Ryan said “we don’t know” if Omicron is already in Ireland.
“We do a lot of testing and it hasn’t been picked up yet”, he said. “We won’t know the real impact of this for a number of weeks. It will take two or three weeks to see: does it increase transmissibility? Does it increase illnesses? Can it get around vaccines?”
Until this is clear, Ryan said “we [will] double down to tackle the Delta variant as well as the Omicron variant … There’s still 5,000 people a day getting infected in our country. So it shouldn’t distract us from doing the basic things we have been doing well, to get those numbers down”.
When asked about the decision to scrap contact tracing in schools and the government’s slow rollout of antigen testing, he said that “our people need also to have a social life and have contact to be able to go to school and go to work as part of their health and well being”.
“By any international comparison … our actual loss of life is lower. Our vaccination rates are higher. Our ability to retain livelihoods has actually worked.”
He said that government advice on not having birthday parties or Nativity plays for children “has to be temporary”.
“We have to be conscious of the need for our children to also be able to learn by play and through day to day contact. But I think their recommendation for that was for a very specific recent spike in the numbers in that age group.”
When asked why parents were being advised to limit their children’s social contacts while nightclubs remain open, Ryan said: “We will heed health advice, but … particularly younger people in college, in work and in school – we will have to live with Covid in a way where they’re not isolated, where they’re not full of anxiety and cut off because of that.”Internet Explorer Channel Network