Possible Omicron cases in Ireland
The State is studying more than 10 possible cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant after initial tests showed they had a trait distinguishing it from the dominant Delta variant, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.
Unlike Delta, which has dominated infections worldwide this year, Omicron has a mutation known as the S-gene drop-out, which means that PCR tests can give a clue to the presence of the new variant.
Mr Donnelly said the suspected cases had been sent for full genomic sequencing, but that it is likely officials will be confirming Omicron infections in the coming days.
Government leaders are meeting Nphet to discuss possible mitigation measures against the new variant.
Antigen testing in schools
A new system of antigen testing for asymptomatic close contacts of Covid-19 has begun in primary schools.
Under the system, antigen tests will be made available to primary school children when a child in their ‘pod’ has a positive PCR test for the virus.
Antigen testing will be offered to a full class when two or more confirmed cases of Covid-19 occur in the class within a seven-day period and outside a single pod.
However, some teachers do not think the new antigen testing programme goes far enough and are calling for a return of contact tracing in schools.
Hospitality sector hit by reduced socialisation
The hospitality sector has been hit again as cancellations for Christmas bookings are up in the Mid-West as people cut down on socialising.
Groups in the industry are calling on the Government to extend the wage subsidy scheme to businesses who are impacted by the latest public health advice.
This comes as venues across the country are preparing for a return of annual pantomime productions.
Those involved are hoping there won't be any further Covid-19 restrictions which may stop curtains from going up in theatres.