Seven cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 detected in Northern Ireland 1 month ago

Seven cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 detected in Northern Ireland

These are the first confirmed cases of the variant in the North.

Seven confirmed cases of the B.1.617.2 Covid-19 variant, which originated in India, have been detected in Northern Ireland.

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Northern Ireland's Department of Health confirmed the news today, stating it is now working closely with the Public Health Agency and the Regional Virology Laboratory to investigate and assess these cases.

Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland Dr Michael McBride said in a statement that the news was "not entirely unexpected" and that plans are in place for such an eventuality.

Dr McBride stated that the confirmation of the seven cases "does not mean" the variant will become the most dominant strain in the North, but that it does "highlight why caution is still essential in relation to Covid-19."

He explained: “The most effective way to stop variants developing or spreading is to keep pushing down infection rates and transmission of the virus in our community.

“All variants spread in the same way. We protect ourselves and others by following public health advice and getting vaccinated when our turn comes.

“Social distancing and limiting the number of contacts we have are still vitally important. So too are wearing a face covering and washing hands well and often.

"Also, please always remember the particular risks from indoor settings, especially those that are crowded and have poor ventilation.”

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Dr McBride added: “While preventative measures – including travel restrictions – are very important, the assessment is that these will delay rather than permanently prevent the spread of variants already detected elsewhere on these islands."

Earlier on Thursday, Northern Ireland's Department of Health reported 102 new cases of Covid-19 but no new deaths related to the virus.

For more information about the Indian variant of Covid-19, check out JOE's explainer here.