Seven confirmed cases of the Indian Coronavirus variant have been confirmed in Northern Ireland.
The Department of Health announced these are the first confirmed cases of this variant in the province.
Cases of the VUI B.1.617.2 variant were identified in the Republic two weeks ago, leading to India being added to the mandatory hotel quarantine list.
Northern Ireland’s Department of Health said incident management protocols have been activated. A detailed health protection risk assessment will be part of the public health response, as will contact tracing.
Meanwhile, 102 new cases of the virus and no further deaths were confirmed in the region in the past day.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: “This news is not entirely unexpected and plans are in place for such an eventuality.
“While preventative measures – including travel restrictions – are very important, the assessment is that these will delay rather than permanently prevent the spread of variants already detected elsewhere on these islands.
“Confirmation of these cases does not mean this variant is going to become the most prevalent or the dominant strain in Northern Ireland.
“It does, however, highlight why caution is still essential in relation to COVID-19.”