Health officials confirmed on Saturday that Vietnam has discovered a new type of COVID-19 that spreads rapidly through the air and is a combination of strains first found in India and Britain.
The country is struggling to cope with the new outbreak in more than half of its territory, including industrial areas and major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
More than 6,800 cases, including 47 deaths, have been reported in Vietnam, with the lion’s share occurring since April.
According to state media, Health Minister Nguyen Tan Long, at a national meeting on Saturday, “discovered a new kind of hybrid of … strains” found in India and Britain.
“The characteristic of this strain is that it spreads rapidly in the air. The concentration of the virus in the throat fluid increases rapidly and spreads rapidly to the surrounding environment.”
He did not specify the number of cases recorded with the new species, but said Vietnam would soon announce the discovery of the map in the world’s genetic strains.
Scientists in the Vietnam Central Institute of Health and Epidemiology said in a statement on Saturday that they had discovered a gene mutation in four of 32 patient samples through gene sequencing.
According to the Ministry of Health, seven types of coronavirus are known.
The country has already been widely praised for its aggressive pandemic response, with massive quarantines and accurate contact tracking helping keep infection rates low.
The new round of infections has frightened the people and the government, and the authorities have quickly imposed severe restrictions on their activities and business activities.
Cafes, restaurants, hairdressers and massage parlors, as well as tourist and religious places, have been ordered to close in different parts of the country.
Vietnam – a country of 97 million people – has vaccinated just over one million citizens.
According to the Minister of Health, the country is now on the rise and hopes to achieve herd immunity by the end of the year.
State media reported that officials had asked people and businesses to help fund the vaccine, while embassies and international organizations were contacted for help.
The country currently has close to two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but said it will buy more than 30 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
According to state media, it is also in talks with Russia to produce Sputnik V and is working on a domestically produced vaccine.
Near Thailand, the government on Saturday exempted media reports in Britain that were creating new pressure and concern there as a “Thai type”.
British health officials say the strain was first discovered in Thailand in a 33-year-old Egyptian passenger, but 109 cases have been discovered in Britain since.
“In principle, it should not be called Thai because the infected person is from abroad,” said Opas Kankawinpong, head of Thailand’s Disease Control Division.
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