Ireland has cut its isolation time for people diagnosed with COVID-19 who have had their booster jab after a significant surge in coronavirus cases over the Christmas period has put health services under pressure.
The shorter quarantine period of seven days, as opposed to 10, also applies to those who have had their first vaccination course and subsequently been infected within the last three months.
After seven days and only if symptoms have resolved for the last two days, people can leave their homes, but are required to minimize contacts, wear masks and take an antigen test before meeting other people.
The country, which contained coronavirus cases to around 5,000 a day or lower throughout most of December, has seen rates jump from 7,411 just before Christmas to 20,554 on Thursday.
“While our booster rollout program is going extremely well, the extent to which the epidemic is continuing to accelerate means that there is still significant concern regarding the likely impact of such high case counts on our health services,” said Health Minister Stephen Donnelly in a statement Thursday evening.
The rate of the surge has forced the health ministry to also limit PCR testing to those over 40 and under three years old with symptoms. Others must isolate and use antigen tests; they can only have a PCR test to confirm a positive antigen test result.
Donnelly said that 92 percent of cases in Ireland were now due to the Omicron variant of concern.
Omicron is sweeping across Europe at a rapid pace. France on Thursday also announced that the variant is now dominant, accounting for two thirds of all cases.
The Paris region, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Corsica and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes have the highest rates of infection currently, Public Health France said, with rates highest among younger adults. Rates of hospitalization and critical care admissions are mostly stable, the agency said.
Omicron is also the dominant strain in the U.K., Portugal and Denmark.