The three people that arrived in Ireland with the Brazilian variant of Covid-19 were identified at Dublin airport and are in isolation, HSE Chief Operating Officer Dr Colm Henry has said.
r Henry said that the “necessary actions” took place with regard to the positive cases from “the moment those people arrived in Ireland,” while speaking on RTÉ Radio One this morning.
“Let me just reassure people, all the while that was happening, the essential public health measures were taking place, the identifying of contacts, observation and testing of close contacts in these particular cases.
“In these cases, as with any countries of concern, the necessary actions took place from the moment those people arrived in Ireland,” he said.
The Brazilian P1 variant is a ‘variant of concern’ as it is believed to be more infectious and vaccines may also be less effective against it.
Dr Henry stopped short of saying these cases were completely “ring-fenced” but wanted to reassure people all the isolation and contact tracing mechanisms were activated immediately.
The COO did say it was a possibility that more positive cases of the variant may arise from these cases.
“There may well be more [positive cases] because the contact tracing will look at all the possible contacts that these people had that are on the island of Ireland. More cases may come to light due to the active surveillance because of that testing.
“I can’t say they’ve been completely ring-fenced but the actions taken by our public health teams – we have a special outbreak team looking at South Africa and Brazil – has ensured these cases were isolated and tested. That contact tracing and observation is not yet complete but our hope is that we can ring-fence these cases,” Dr Henry said.
The chief clinical officer said the three positive cases arrived in Ireland in “recent weeks” but would not specifically comment on the nature of the cases or how long they had been in Ireland before they tested positive.
Dr Henry did say that health officials did not wait until these people tested positive and there was an “active surveillance” on all people arriving from countries of concern, such as Brazil.
The HSE COO said that there are reports of people who had Covid-19 becoming reinfected with emerging variants such as the Brazilian variant.
“The main concern we have, though, with emerging variants is the increased transmissibility, a bit like the B117 (UK) variant that came to our shores in December.
“The other concern we have is that they may be less susceptible to these neutralising antibodies that are invoked by the vaccine,” he said.
Dr Henry said that while there have been more studies conducted on the South African variant, it appears the vaccines are effective against variants of concern, “but maybe not to the same degree” as they are to the older version of the virus.
Dr Cillian de Gascun of Nphet said the three cases are from the same cluster and that health officials are confident they isolated from the community upon returning to Ireland in early February.
He said that all three isolated and followed testing protocol and that none were in hospital, while speaking with Katie Hannon on RTÉ Radio.
Dr de Gascun also confirmed three more cases of the South African variant have been identified in Ireland this week, taking the total to 14. The Nphet member said all three cases were as a result of travel directly from South Africa and there was no reason to suspect the variant was circulating in the community.
Source: Irish News