Microbiologist Professor James McInerney has warned that unless Ireland seals its borders and introduces rigorous quarantining measure there will be repeated lockdowns for the remainder of the year and maybe even into 2022.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said on Thursday that a system of mandatory quarantine for incoming air and sea passengers would be “disproportionate” and “unworkable.”
"It was obvious that Ireland needed to adopt the New Zealand approach and seal its borders," Prof McInerney told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
"There were ways of quarantining and making sure that people arriving into the country did not bring the virus with them," he said.
Irish-born Prof McInerney, who is a computational evolutionary biologist and head of life sciences at the University of Nottingham, pointed out that last December he was being asked if the UK virus variant was in Ireland and now it was the main variant in the country.
"That’s how quickly it could spread," he said.
The main concern with the new variants was that some were more transmissible while others made people sicker.
"The 501Y (South African) variant was of particular concern," he said as there was some evidence that people could be reinfected.
Vaccines could be “tweaked” and the consensus was that regulatory hurdles would not be as severe in the future.
"It was akin to removing a block in the wall of a house and replacing it, which would provide protection," he explained.
Meanwhile, the Rural Independent Group has criticised the Government for its "juvenile" excuses for not imposing mandatory travel quarantine.
The Group's leader, Mattie McGrath, says it makes a "laughing stock" of the Irish public.