Omicron: Covid-19 variant will be a 'challenge in the new year'

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 will be a challenge "early in the new year" for Northern Ireland, the first minister has said.

Paul Givan said civil servants were scenario-planning ahead of an expected rise in cases.

However, he added: "We don't need to be panicking."

Speaking during a joint visit to a vaccination clinic on Thursday, Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said it was "inevitable" that the variant would cause difficulties for the health service at some stage.

She explained this could have an impact on services, but ministers hoped to avoid introducing additional restrictions.

"We don't want to be in that space," she continued.

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