Three cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 have been identified in Ireland.
Two of the three cases are associated with travel, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) briefing heard on Monday.
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, it’s 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 the vast majority of cases in Ireland are the B117 variant, also known as the Kent 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,” he 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.”
Dr Glynn said there is an “ongoing improving situation” in terms of incidence and the numbers of people in hospital, as well as a stabilisation of numbers in critical care.
He said the five day moving average now at 364 cases per day, the lowest for “some months”.
However he cautioned that although the country has come a long way, GPs are still seeing levels of disease activity equivalent to what they were seeing at the start of November.
No further deaths connected with Covid-19 have been reported in Ireland on Monday, while another 403 cases were confirmed.
On Monday morning, there were 183 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of which 50 were in intensive case.
As of April 17, 1,204,063 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Ireland, of which 852,189 were first doses, and 351,874 were second doses.