Coronavirus: Delta variant cases in State rise to 126

Little community transmission in Republic of version first discovered in India

The Alpha variant that was first identified in the UK remains the dominant variant in the Republic, accounting for about 90% of sequenced samples.

The Alpha variant that was first identified in the UK remains the dominant variant in the Republic, accounting for about 90% of sequenced samples.

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The number of Irish cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19 first identified in India has increased to 126, according to the latest update from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

While this represents a small increase from the 116 such cases last reported at the end of May, the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre says many cases were sent to Germany for genetic sequencing following the cyberattack on the HSE’s IT systems last month and these results have not come back yet.

Most Delta variant cases are the result of close contact with a known case of the variant, with small proportions attributed to community transmission and travel.

There have now been a total of 107 cases here of the Kappa variant, which is closely related to the Delta variant but is not considered as dangerous.

The Alpha variant that was first identified in the UK remains the dominant variant in the Republic, accounting for about 90 per cent of sequenced samples. In contrast, less than 5 per cent of such samples are Delta variant cases.

On Thursday, it was confirmed that 111 Delta variant cases had now been reported in Northern Ireland, with the variant accounting for 25 per cent of all new cases there.

The issue of the variant was one of the dominant themes of the two-day British-Irish Council meeting held in Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh.

Speaking at a press conference at the conclusion of the event, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the increasing incidence of the variant was a cause of shared concern.

“With Covid-19, the last cloud on the horizon is the Delta variant. I think we need to [address it] through close collaboration and getting all hands on deck. It is a very serious issue for the people we [all] represent.”

Fresh surge

Northern Ireland’s Minister for Health Robin Swann has warned of the potential for a significant fresh surge of positive cases and hospitalisations by late summer or early autumn, if the Delta variant becomes dominant.

The Delta variant is now dominant in England, according to a new report from Public Health England on Friday.

It found that this variant is 64 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which became dominant in Britain and Ireland from about Christmas.

The Delta variant is also associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of hospitalisation, data from England indicates, as well as a reduction in vaccine effectiveness.

On Friday, a further 319 Covid-19 cases were reported in the State. There were 60 Covid-19 patients in hospital, with 23 of them in ICU.

Earlier, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said 11 hospitals in the State now had no Covid-19 patients, as the number of Covid cases involving serious illness continued to decline.

In Northern Ireland, one more coronavirus-related death and 121 further Covid-19 cases were reported on Friday.

Waiting lists

As the State’s health service starts to address the backlog of non-Covid care, new figures show at least 100,000 children are on a public waiting list for health appointments or procedures.

There are 82,264 children on the outpatient waiting list and 7,698 waiting for an inpatient or daycase procedure, according to figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).

Another 5,000 children are on other public waiting lists, while another 8,000 awaiting scans are not recorded on an NTPF list, according to the Irish Hospital Consultants Association.

It said the health system was failing the most vulnerable in society due to the State’s inability to recruit and retain adequate numbers of consultants.

The NTPF has only recently begun publishing separate waiting list figures for children, which include young people waiting for appointments in the three Dublin children’s hospitals and those on the waiting lists of individual hospitals.

More than 37,000 children on the outpatient list have been waiting 12 months or more to be seen. More than 2,500 children have been waiting at least 12 months for an inpatient procedure.

The largest outpatient waiting lists for children are in ear, nose and throat services; paediatrics, and dermatology.

Overall, there was a marginal decrease in the outpatient and inpatient waiting lists, which had soared during the lockdown earlier this year. However, the figures for May run up only to the 13th of the month as hospitals were unable to file data to the NTPF after that date due to the cyberattack on the HSE’s IT systems.

A total of 630,270 people – including 548,000 adults – are on the outpatient waiting list.