Expert: New Covid-19 variant may have spread here via North

Expert: New Covid-19 variant may have spread here via North

A cluster of cases of the new variant has been found in Dublin, Kildare, and Wicklow, with smaller clusters in Sligo and Leitrim and then Clare and Tipperary. 

A new variant of Covid-19 spreading across Europe could have entered Ireland via the North, an expert has said.

Named 20A.EU1, the new variant is prevalent in a number of countries, predominantly here, Spain, and the UK.

Researchers suspect that incidents of the new variant in the South originated, at least in part, from people arriving from the North.

A map published by Medical Express shows a cluster of cases in Dublin, Kildare, and Wicklow and smaller clusters in Sligo and Leitrim and then Clare and Tipperary. The map was provided by researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

There is no evidence the new variant is worse than Covid-19.

A lot of variants exist, according to Medical Express, but few of them spread as successfully as 20A.EU1.

Super-spreading event

The new variant originated in Spain in the summer and, said Medical Express, the earliest evidence of the new variant is linked to a super-spreading event among agricultural workers in the north-east of Spain.

The research calls into question “the efficacy of travel policies adopted by European countries during the summer”.

“I know Ireland and Northern Ireland never closed borders during the pandemic," said the study's lead author Emma Hodcroft of the University of Basel.

“And Northern Ireland had the same restrictions as England — they had a quarantine-free travel period, whereas Ireland never had one.

We know there is lots of movement between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and this may have meant people possibly coming back from Northern Ireland may have brought this. And interactions may have meant that this also travelled through Ireland as well. 

“As far as where the variant has been found in parts of Ireland, we don't know that there has been even sampling across Ireland," she added.

“So, we can’t necessarily say what is happening in the rest of the country, so I wouldn't say it is only in some parts of Ireland.”

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