Nine further cases of the new variant of COVID-19 have been detected in Ireland.
The Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory in UCD, Dr Cillian De Gascun, said they were identified in samples taken between December 23rd and 29th.
He said the proportion works out at less than 10% of samples and suggests the variant is not responsible for the recent surge in case numbers.
It brings to 16 the total number of cases identified in Ireland to date.
The new variant of coronavirus was first identified in the south-east of England and is believed to spread more quickly than the original strain.
It comes as NPHET predicts that at least 9,000 new cases of COVID-19 will be reported over the coming days.
As a random, albeit small, selection of cases primarily from the community, these data would suggest that the #SARSCoV2 #UKvariant - at a proportion of <10% - is not responsible for the recent significant & concerning increase in #SARSCoV2 case numbers #Surveillance #StayAtHome
— Cillian De Gascun (@CillianDeGascun) January 1, 2021
Yesterday saw 1,754 new cases of the virus confirmed in the Republic with 11 further deaths also reported.
The Chief Medical Officer warned that the health system will not be able to cope with this level of impact.
Dr Tony Holohan said that between 50 and 70 people are now being admitted to hospital every day.
He added that the testing and reporting system is continuing to catch up with delays from Christmas - including as a result of those who didn’t come forward for testing over the Christmas period.
Infectious diseases expert, Professor Sam McConkey, told Newstalk that there appears to be a greater sense of urgency from the Government in tackling the virus.
He said he was "really pleased" to hear the Taoiseach say that the Government was going to do "whatever is necessary" to control the pandemic.
Professor McConkey explained: "That to me shows there is a real existential threat to our individual lives and stability to the economy, to happiness and health.
"They're really taking responsibility and saying it's up to the Government to lead a way to fix this."
Earlier this week, Professor McConkey said it was "difficult to disentangle" whether the recent surge of cases can be attributed to increased socialising or the new coronavirus variant.