Increased socialising around Christmas – and not a new COVID-19 variant – has driven Ireland’s rapid transformation from having the lowest infection rate in the European Union to the fastest rate of deterioration, health officials said.
Prime Minister Micheál Martin said on Wednesday the highly infectious new variant discovered in neighbouring Britain was spreading in Ireland at a rate that has surpassed the most pessimistic models available to the government.
Ireland’s top virologist, Cillian De Gascun, said late on Friday laboratories had found 16 instances of the variant from a sample of 169 positive cases.
“Right now we believe the UK variant is here at a relatively low level, even with that small sample,” Nolan told national broadcaster RTE.
“We saw an even more intense level of socialisation and viral transmission over…