Vietnam has imposed strict restrictions in its major cities as the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a “combination” of Indian and British variants of COVID-19 was found in the country.
International flights to Vietnam’s capital Hanoi will be suspended for a week from Tuesday.
And 15 days of strict lockdown measures have begun in Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s largest metropolis, which include a ban on eating out at restaurants and public gatherings of more than 10 people.
According to state media, there are also plans to test all nine million people in Ho Chi Minh City, with 100,000 tests to be conducted in a day.
After successfully containing the coronavirus outbreak for much of the past year, infections in Vietnam have been increasing rapidly and have detected a number of highly transmissible forms.
The country, with a population of 98 million people, has so far recorded more than 7,000 cases, with a total of 47 deaths, one of the world’s lowest totals, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In Vietnam, only more than one million vaccine doses have been given, only about 29,000 people have been fully vaccinated.
And the new outbreak has now reached 34 of the country’s 63 provinces.
The WHO representative in Vietnam said on Monday that the “combination” announced over the weekend by local authorities was the Indian version of the virus with a mutation that was found in the British version.
The WHO stated that four out of some 32 samples of people infected with Indian-type people in the cluster in North Vietnam had a Y144 deletion mutation in the spike protein.
This is a feature of the B117 version, which was first discovered in the UK and became known as the Kent version.
“The virus mutation is to be expected,” said WHO’s Dr Kidong Park.
“WHO Vietnam is working with our national counterparts to monitor this new mutation and support the investigation as needed.”
On Saturday, Vietnam’s Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the hybrid of the Indian and British variants could spread more easily and be responsible for Vietnam’s recent rise in cases.
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