Health Minister ‘deeply concerned’ about new COVID version

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is “deeply concerned” about a new COVID variant identified in Africa.

The Department of Health said it was monitoring the emergence of the new version B.1.1.529, which has been detected in several countries in southern Africa and Hong Kong.

The UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive have announced that six African countries have been added to their international travel red list, amid concerns that the new version could potentially have implications for transmission, clinical implications and vaccine effectiveness. can be.

WHO has not yet designated this type as a type of concern.

A statement from Ireland’s Department of Health said: “The World Health Organization (WHO) is meeting tomorrow to assess the importance of this edition.

“WHO has not yet designated this variant as a variant of concern.

“The ECDC (European Center for Disease Prevention and Control) has stated that it continues to monitor all emerging evidence in this regard.”

The statement said: “The Department is aware of the measures taken by the Government of the United Kingdom, including the suspension of flights to and from a number of African countries.

“There have been no such cases in Europe to date, but the Health Minister is deeply concerned.

“The department is in contact with colleagues in Northern Ireland and we will continue to liaise with UK officials.

“The advice of the Department will continue to be communicated to the Minister by relevant guidance received from ECDC and WHO.”

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