The Indian variant of Covid-19 is a “black cloud on the horizon” for Ireland, the country’s chief medical officer said.
Dr Tony Holohan also said public health officials were “genuinely concerned” about the variant and its increased transmissibility, despite the situation being “stable” at present.
“In broad terms you could characterise it that the sky is for the most part blue. But there is a black cloud on the horizon which is the Indian variant,” Dr Holohan said.
He said officials would have all those factors in mind when they consider the advice they will give to Government later this month about the continued easing of restrictions.
Some 72 cases of the variant have been confirmed in Ireland to date, up from 59 earlier this week.
The figure has increased from 41 in the past seven days.
An additional 524 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Ireland by the Department of Health.
There were 107 patients with the virus in hospital on Friday morning including 38 in intensive care units.