Eris Covid variant monitored by Northern Ireland Public Health Agency

The Public Health Agency says it is monitoring the EG 5.1 variant of Covid-19, but there is no information to suggest it poses more risk than other circulating variants.

A small number of cases of the 'Eris' variant have been identified in Northern Ireland.

The PHA says the number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus has risen in recent weeks, and while the figure is low compared to the last two year, "it may rise further".

It is urging people to take advantage of the vaccination programme this autumn and winter and reminding people to follow basic steps around respiratory hygiene.

"We reported in our weekly bulletin that a small number of cases of EG.5.1 had been identified in Northern Ireland," a statement from the PHA said.

"Variants that become common elsewhere will usually be detected in Northern Ireland, so this is something that we anticipate.

"We are monitoring EG.5.1 along with the other variants.

"At this point we have no information to suggest that EG.5.1 poses more risk than other circulating variants.

"The virus lineages that are most common in Northern Ireland currently are XBB, XBB.1.16 and XBB.1.5. This is a similar picture to what is being seen across the UK."

It continued: "The best thing that people can do to protect themselves from Covid-19, if they are eligible, is to take advantage of the Covid-19 vaccination programme this autumn/winter to reduce their chance of having a severe infection.

"We can all also follow basic steps around respiratory hygiene, such as regular handwashing, to help reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19, flu and other similar illnesses.

"We will continue to monitor and report on the risk from Covid-19 and its variants in Northern Ireland."

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