THE IRISH government is being encouraged to delay the reopening of travel routes to and from the UK due to the troubling emergence of the Indian variant in parts of England.
Infectious diseases expert, Professor Sam McConkey, has warned that the variant has the potential to spark a "fourth wave" if it isn't properly contained.
He added that Ireland should avoid taking any risks while the nation's vaccine rollout is still finding its feet.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Prof McConkey said that recent data indicates a "huge jump" in the Indian variant in some parts of the UK, in spite of high levels of vaccinations.
"We don't want to negate the wonderful work of the vaccination programme," he said.
The number of Indian variant cases identified in the UK has more than doubled in a week, jumping from 520 to 1,313.
The troubling statistics mean that British health experts are currently reconsidering the plan to lift all pandemic-related restrictions on June 21.
There's currently no concrete evidence to suggest that the Indian variant is resistant to any of the existing Covid-19 vaccines, but experts are concerned nonetheless because it's considered to be a more transmissible strain.
That being said, unlike the South African variant, the Indian variant is not a double-mutation of coronavirus, which increases the chances of vaccines being ineffective.