TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has revealed that the UK variant has been detected in nearly half of all Covid-19 cases in Ireland.
According to the latest data, it's estimated that the variant accounts for 45% of all cases currently in the country.
Ireland currently has the highest Covid-19 infection rate in the world, largely down to the fact that many people travelling home from the UK over the festive period brought the super-spreading new strain with them.
Speaking on Newstalk's The Pat Kenny Show on Monday, Martin said: "I think the UK variant has had a very significant impact in terms of the rapidity of the growth of transmission.
"Of that I am convinced, and I think the evidence is showing now that unfortunately it's growing in terms of its percentage of the overall transmission.
"I'm not blaming it all on the new variant. I'm saying the new variant is a very significant factor and subsequent evidence has proven that.
"I'm accepting socialisation [as a reason for Ireland's high transmission rate]. I would add the UK variant and I would add other factors as well in terms of seasonality."
The Taoiseach went on to say that after speaking with Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, he discovered that in the latest sample of tests, 42 out 92 Covid-19 patients tested positive for the UK variant.
Known as VUI202012/01, the UK variant is believed to be around 70% more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain.