Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said there is no reason to panic just yet around the further reopening scheduled for July 5 as concerns grow due to the spread of the Delta variant.
t emerged yesterday that the variant, first identified in India, is now responsible for 20pc of all new cases and is likely to become the dominant variant in Ireland in the coming weeks.
Dr Una Fallon, Director of Public Health, HSE Midlands said a cluster of cases in Athlone linked to a gathering on June 11 is “probably the Delta variant”. The outbreak is responsible for 14 cases linked to the gathering near the Shannon, and other secondary cases as a result of close contact.
Mr Varadkar said Government will not make a final decision on the return of indoor dining and the further easing of restrictions slated for July 5 until Thursday, July 1, but said “we’re still on track”.
“It’s important to understand that the Delta variant will become dominant in Ireland,” the Tánaiste said, adding that as the number of cases of the Delta variant increase, the cases of other variants will fall. “That’s the way the biology works,” Mr Varadkar said.
“What we want to see are the figures for the total number of cases and whether that impacts on hospitals in any way.
“In the UK it has been the dominant variant there for weeks and weeks now. Notwithstanding that they have managed to keep indoor dining open, but they are seeing a small increase in cases of hospitalisations.”
Mr Varadkar urged the people in Athlone to “take up the offer” of a free PCR test and asked people to come forward for their vaccine when called.
He acknowledged there are “bumps in the road” when it comes to leaving restrictions and the virus behind but said: “We are on our way out of this”.