A new report says four cases of the Mu variant of Covid have been identified in Ireland.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the strain as a 'variant of interest' — but not a 'variant of concern'.
The variant has been recorded in 39 countries so far and health authorities are currently trying to determine whether it is more resistant to vaccination than other strains of coronavirus.
In a statement issued earlier, the WHO said “The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape.
“Since its first identification in Colombia in January 2021, there have been a few sporadic reports of cases of the Mu variant and some larger outbreaks have been reported from other countries in South America and in Europe.”
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) says the cases were recorded before the end of last month.
A further 1,414 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the State.
There are 353 coronavirus patients in Irish hospitals with 55 in ICU.
Ireland’s rate of Covid-19 is the highest in the European Union, while deaths related to the disease have hit a five-month high.
Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show the Republic has a 14-day incidence rate of just over 500 cases per 100,000 people — just ahead of Cyprus, with a rate of 496.
Covid-19 was linked to 52 deaths in August, the highest monthly total since April. Ten deaths were recorded last week, with an average age of 77 years, according to the HSE.