Among the mass of presentations, pictures, and numbers that made up the briefings from the HSE and NPHET representatives on Thursday, there was one particularly positive slide.

It appeared about halfway through the presentation from Prof Philip Nolan in the Department of Health.

Displayed was a bar chart for how many cases of the Delta variant have been detected each week since it first appeared in Ireland in April.

Then known as the Indian variant, the chart showed cases growing weekly through April, reaching a peak of just below 50 cases one week in early May.

Crucially, it showed, cases have been falling since then.

"It's reassuring that in recent weeks, the number of identified cases of the Delta variant is not increasing," said Prof Nolan.

He credited public health teams and others in the health service with having prevented the spread of the Delta cases that were brought into Ireland.

England has seen explosive growth of the Delta variant

It’s ten weeks since the first case of Delta was detected in Ireland. It is made up about 5% of cases that have been analysed for the variant recently.

By comparison, about 60% of cases in England were Delta ten weeks after the first detection in the country.

In total, there have been 188 cases of Delta in Ireland now. Limited additional information has been available on them recently, due to the HSE cyber attack.

That absence of information had led to concern that there may have been unknown levels of community transmission occurring.

That, in combination with the explosive growth of the variant in the UK recently, has led Dr Cillian De Gascun’s team at the National Virus Reference Laboratory to strengthen monitoring for the presence of the Delta variant.

The laboratory is responsible for monitoring the emergence of variants in Ireland.

As part of a global effort to understand the spread of variants, it submits information to a database called GISAID.

In recent days, the GISAID database has begun providing an indication of where in Ireland the Delta variant has been found since April.

The database provides location data for about 160 of the 188 confirmed cases. Of them, 134 were found in Dublin. No other county shows more than ten cases.

We need your consent to load this Datawrapper contentWe use Datawrapper to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

What appears clear now is, so far, Ireland has not seen anything like the explosive growth of the Delta variant in the UK.

The aim now is to keep Delta cases low, as the vaccination roll-out continues and society reopens. That won't be simple, or easy.

Having seen what’s occurred in Britain, NPHET says it will be watching closely an increase in cases in the North.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has previously described the Delta variant as a black cloud in a blue sky.

It remains a black cloud, but the data provided indicates it is a thankfully one a little smaller than many had thought. At least for now.