In a joint statement Thursday afternoon, Stormont ministers said that while no case of the Omicron variant has yet been confirmed here, the situation is likely to change in the coming days.
They said: “Today we received an update from our medical and scientific advisers on the latest Covid-19 situation and, in particular, the emergence of the Omicron variant.
“The emergence of this new strain of the virus is a serious and worrying development around the world. And while there is no cause for alarm, it is vitally important that everyone redouble their efforts to bring down infection rates.
“The evidence on the new variant is being watched very closely. And our public health experts will continue to liaise with colleagues in other jurisdictions as the situation develops globally and locally.
“No case of the Omicron variant has been confirmed here yet, but this situation is likely to change in the coming days. The public will be kept informed and health protection measures will be taken where necessary. “
Urging people to use this time wisely to bring down Covid infection rates, the executive statement added: “It is still not clear whether the clinical impact of this new variant of the coronavirus will be more severe. , therefore, it is essential that we take preventative measures now.
“We are grateful to the audience for the way they have responded so far. People’s actions are already having an impact and we thank everyone for the actions they are taking.
“The effectiveness of the booster vaccination program is evidenced by the reduction in hospitalizations; the large number of people showing up for the first dose of vaccine in recent weeks will make a real difference; and the collective effort to adhere to public health councils has helped reduce the number of cases.
“We know what works. And as Christmas approaches, it is essential that we all continue to work together to keep our society open, protect our health services, and save lives. ”
We urge everyone to remain vigilant and play their part in slowing the spread of the virus by following these simple steps:
- Get the first and second doses of vaccine and get your booster when updated eligibility information is available at nidirect.gov.uk/covidvaccine;
- Limit your social contacts;
- Meet outside when possible;
- If you are meeting indoors, make sure the rooms are well ventilated;
- Wear a face cover in crowded places or indoors;
- Work from home if possible;
- Practice good hand and respiratory hygiene;
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test as soon as possible.
“We thank everyone for continuing to make safer choices that will help protect you, your family and our society. “
Earlier this week, teachers’ unions called for the introduction of a ‘circuit breaker’ over the Christmas period to control the spread of Covid-19 infection in schools across Northern Ireland.
In response, Stormont said today: “Our priority remains to keep our children and youth in school.
“We recognize the challenges facing all of our educational settings and the work that teachers and all staff are doing during this difficult time to support young people.
“We will continue to work with everyone involved to keep our schools open and safe. ”
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