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Foster says new Covid strain ‘probably’ already in Republic

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Coronavirus - Thu Nov 5, 2020...Handout photo of First Minister Arlene Foster at a press conference at Parliament Buildings Stormont. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 5, 2020. Photo credit should read: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. ...A

Coronavirus - Thu Nov 5, 2020...Handout photo of First Minister Arlene Foster at a press conference at Parliament Buildings Stormont. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 5, 2020. Photo credit should read: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. ...A

Coronavirus - Thu Nov 5, 2020...Handout photo of First Minister Arlene Foster at a press conference at Parliament Buildings Stormont. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 5, 2020. Photo credit should read: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. ...A

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has admitted the new strain of Covid-19 is “probably in Northern Ireland and the Republic.”

Ms Foster told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme: “It is probable that it is here and likely it is in the Republic too.”

An official date has not yet been decided by the government for new restrictions here but December 28 and December 30 are thought to be two dates the government have in mind.

This is amid soaring cases as Nphet announced 764 new cases and four further deaths yesterday.

This was the highest figure of confirmed cases announced since early November.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Ryan says there is no evidence yet of the new strain in Ireland, but labs are checking each sample for it.

“We don’t have any evidence of that strain here, our labs are now checking every positive case to see if it is [here].

“It was the announcement from the British government in which they were telling people to stay home [that triggered the travel ban to and from the UK]. The analysis they put forward showed that the transmissibility of this new strain could be significantly higher than previous strains and that’s what caused us and other EU governments to act fast.”

Martin McKee, Professor of Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases, told RTÉ this morning that the new strain of coronavirus found in London has undergone an “unusual” change, which have rendered it more easy to spread.

Prof McKee said the virus was widely spreading despite London being at the previous highest tier of restrictions that were effective in suppressing other strains and it appears to be more transmissible than previous versions of the virus.

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Prof McKee said the new strain appears to add between 0.4 and 0.9 to the R number and if it is closer to 0.9 then “we really are going to have problems”.

“Even in the middle ground of this prediction it does add to the R number a lot and it is very hard to see how you can keep the R number below one if this is the case.”

If the R number is above one, then a person that is infected will give it to more than one other person and conditions for exponential growth occur.


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