A NEW strain of Covid-19 has been found in Ireland after three cases of the Indian variant were identified.
The cases, two of which are associated with travel, were revealed during a National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) briefing on Tuesday evening.
While the new strain isn't considered to be as dangerous as likes of the UK, Brazilian or South African variants, it's believed to contain a double mutation, which means it has the potential to spread more easily, and may even reduce the effectiveness of some vaccines.
Health experts are now calling for India to be added to Ireland's travel 'red list' in order to suppress any further arrival or spread of the strain.
On Tuesday, India was added to the UK's travel 'red list' due to the variant's emergence.
Dr Cillian de Gascun, director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, said the three cases were identified in the last couple of days.
"Public health investigations are ongoing. At least two of them are associated with travel, but there is more work ongoing at the moment," he said.
"At this stage, as with all of these variants of interest, we need to remain vigilant, its important that we try and contain and control it locally, but I suppose we probably still need more information and more evidence to give us an indication as to whether it is going to become a fourth variant of concern."
Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that the vast majority of Covid-19 cases currently in Ireland are the B117 variant, otherwise known as the Kent or UK variant.
"We know that AstraZeneca works very effectively against that variant, we don't know what new variants will arise and what impact they will have on any of the vaccines that we are using at the moment," Dr Glynn said.
"Just as we don't want new variants spreading or arising in this country because of their impact on AstraZeneca, equally we don't want any others impacting on any of the other vaccines."