Video: Omicron in Ireland, unemployment rate falls, referees detail levels of abuse

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Omicron

A case of the Covid-19 Omicron variant has been detected in Ireland.

The Department of Health confirmed the case was travel-related and detected in a person who travelled to Ireland from a scheduled State (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa or Zimbabwe) last week.

Commenting on the discovery, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the public needs to continue to focus on driving down transmission of the virus here, adding: "The measures with which we are all so familiar have worked against previous variants of Covid-19, they can successfully suppress transmission of the Delta variant, and we are optimistic that they will work against the Omicron variant."

Schools

Children in third class in primary school and above are required to wear masks in school from today.

The new guidelines from the Department of Education state a medical certificate is required for an exemption, while those without an exemption who do not wear a mask will be refused entry.

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Asked about the new rules, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he is not "entirely 100 per cent comfortable" with primary school children having to wear masks, adding that there needs to be a "common sense, discretion and practical approach" to the requirements.

Unemployment figures

New figures show Ireland's unemployment rate is falling as the economy bounces back from the early days of the pandemic.

The State's unemployment rate, including people receiving temporary Covid-19 unemployment payments, fell to 6.9 per cent in November from 7.9 per cent in October, figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show.

Excluding the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the rate was unchanged at 5.2 per cent, while an estimated 179,720 people were either out of work or in receipt of the PUP in November.

Operation Open City

A Garda operation to keep public transport moving and minimise traffic disruption in Dublin city ahead of Christmas began on Wednesday morning.

There will be high-visibility and enforcement activity until Christmas Eve, as part of Operation Open City.

Drivers are being asked to familiarise themselves with the changes to road layouts to accommodate cycle lanes and outdoor dining in recent months, while mandatory intoxicant checkpoints will also take place as part of the operation.

Referee abuse

Two-thirds of referees leave within two years due to the scale of abuse, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has said.

The Oireachtas sports committee heard “stark” evidence from representatives from Ireland’s largest sporting organisations on Wednesday about the level of abuse referees often face.

Politicians were told referees have been physically attacked, intimidated and threatened as part of their work at games across the country.

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