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Vietnam Detects First Case of New Covid-19 Variant Discovered in UK

The individual in question was quarantined upon arrival, posing no threat to the community.

VnExpress reports that on December 22, 2020, 305 passengers on a Vietnam Airlines repatriation flight arrived at Can Tho International Airport from the United Kingdom. Everyone on board was quarantined in Can Tho, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh or Saigon.

Subsequent testing found that six of the 305 people were positive for COVID-19, and their samples were sent to the HCMC Pasteur Institute for genetic sequencing. Scientists there found that one patient, a 44-year-old woman, had SARS-CoV-2 202012/01, a new variant first discovered in the UK last month and believed to be up to 70% more transmissible than standard SARS-CoV-2.

At the time of writing, the woman was undergoing treatment at the Tra Vinh Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Hospital with minor virus symptoms. Her husband, who is still in the UK, also tested positive for COVID-19.

This new variant of the coronavirus has sparked acute public health concerns and strict lockdown and border control regulations around the world. The UK has recorded over 50,000 new COVID-19 cases per day over the last week, a surge partially attributed to the new virus strain, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said further lockdown restrictions are coming. Most of the country is already under the highest level of lockdown yet seen in the UK.

Three American states have also detected cases of this variant, leading health experts to warn that it is likely already widespread in the country, which remains the world's worst COVID-19 hotspot as case and death figures continue to break daily records.

Here in Asia, countries such as India, Taiwan, the Philippines and Myanmar have extended or renewed a variety of bans on foreign arrivals via international flights out of concern over the virulent new strain.

[Photo via Tien Phong]