Coronavirus: What does Omicron mean for Ireland?

In the News podcast: Can the Irish economy cope with another Covid-19 variant?

On today’s podcast, Irish Times political reporter Jack Horgan-Jones analyses the latest Government measures being implemented to curb the spread of Covid and  how these changes will impact people’s daily lives. Photograph: Alan Betson

On today’s podcast, Irish Times political reporter Jack Horgan-Jones analyses the latest Government measures being implemented to curb the spread of Covid and how these changes will impact people’s daily lives. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A week ago, many of us still had hope that the end of the pandemic could be in sight. Covid case numbers were high but we had cut back on our social contacts and figures were appearing to plateau. But then, on Thursday, news started emerging that scientists in South Africa had detected a new, heavily mutated variant of the virus that was potentially more transmissible and could bypass vaccine protection.

By Friday, the World Health Organisation had given it a name. Omicron.

Ireland responded by restricting travel from the seven southern African countries most affected by the strain and the Cabinet met on Tuesday to discuss what national measures were needed to curb the spread of Omicron within Irish borders.

The Government opted for a more persuasive rather than prescriptive approach by recommending that children aged nine and over wear masks in school while also asking parents to curtail their children’s social contacts.

All arrivals into Ireland – whether vaccinated or not – will also need a clear Covid test result from Friday onwards, said the Cabinet.

There have been no confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Ireland yet but with cases cropping up across Europe, it is really a question of when at this point rather than if.

So what will Omicron mean for Ireland and can our economy cope with another Covid-19 variant?

On today’s podcast, Irish Times political reporter Jack Horgan-Jones analyses the latest Government measures being implemented to curb the spread of Covid and also looks at how these changes will impact people’s daily lives in the run up to Christmas.

And Irish Times writer Cliff Taylor hones on the implications of this variant on the Irish economy which, up until last week, appeared to be enjoying an extraordinary bounceback from the pandemic.

Could this new variant and a prolonged pandemic change Ireland’s economic equation again?

In the News is presented by reporters Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope

You can listen to the podcast here:
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