New COVID-19 variant of interest EG.5.1 (‘Eris’) detected in Ireland


HPSC reported this week that the new variant of interest (VOI) EG.5.1 (‘Eris’) has been detected among cases in Ireland. This variant is more transmissible than previous circulating variants and has been associated with outbreaks, including in hospitals, in Ireland and in the UK. There is currently no evidence of increased clinical severity of infection but people are still advised to follow COVID-19 prevention measures ( and follow advice on COVID-19 vaccinations ( 

The updated summary report of COVID-19 virus variants in Ireland was published on the HPSC website 

We are currently seeing an increase in COVID-19 infections in Ireland. Updated data on case numbers is available in the HPSC Epidemiology of COVID-19 in Ireland data hub. Indicators had been trending downwards during May and June 2023, and began to increase again from the end of June. A similar trend is occurring in the UK. 

We have seen waves of increased COVID-19 activity occur every few months since the start of 2022. There are likely to be several factors driving these waves such as increased indoor mixing, increased international travel, and waning immunity. To date, waves during the summer period have generally been of lower magnitude than those in the winter period. 

No significant increase in infection severity has been observed in Ireland in recent weeks. The number of patients in ICU that had COVID-19 infection did increase slightly during July, but remains overall low. However, as in previous waves, if COVID-19 case numbers increase substantially, some level of increased hospital and ICU admissions is likely to follow. In Ireland, we have seen in previous waves that increased circulation in the community results in an increase in patients with COVID-19 in hospital, and an increase in outbreaks in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare settings.

HSE’s National Health Protection Service has reiterated the need for vulnerable settings like hospitals and care homes to review their infection prevention and control measures in line with guidance available on the HPSC website at New/Updated Guidance - Health Protection Surveillance Centre ( 

COVID-19 is still circulating in our community and is causing hospital admissions. It’s important we all continue to take simple actions like handwashing and covering your cough that will protect our families and communities, particularly those at the greatest risk of severe illness.

If you aren't in a specific risk group or setting, you won't be tested for COVID-19 unless a GP or healthcare worker advises you to have one. However, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 and feel unwell, you should stay at home until 48 hours after your symptoms are mostly or fully gone, stay away from work and avoid crowded indoor spaces. 

Vaccination remains our best protection against severe complications from COVID-19 infection as well as other infections like flu. This autumn, the new COVID-19 booster programme and the seasonal flu programme will be rolled out and eligible groups will be invited to receive free vaccines. HSE strongly encourage those eligible to take up the offer of vaccines to protect themselves, their families and their wider community. Information on COVID-19 Autumn Booster and Seasonal Flu programmes are available here: