WHO rules out new 'hybrid' Covid-19 variant in Vietnam

The variant is within the delta variation that originated in India.
The variant is within the delta variation that originated in India. PHOTO: REUTERS

HANOI (REUTERS, XINHUA, AFP) - A coronavirus variant which the Vietnam authorities thought was a combination of the strains first detected in Britain and in India is not a new hybrid, but part of the existing strain first found in India, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) representative in Vietnam told Nikkei.

“There is no new hybrid variant in Vietnam at this moment based on WHO definition,” Dr Kidong Park said in an online interview with the newspaper, adding that it was within the Delta variation that was first detected in India.

Vietnam reported 250 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, including 231 locally transmitted and 19 imported, raising the total tally to 8,063, according to the country’s Ministry of Health. 

Among the community cases, 145 were detected in the northern epidemic hot spot of Bac Giang province, 44 in the nearby northern Bac Ninh province, 30 in the southern Ho Chi Minh City, and six in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Most of them are contacts of previously confirmed cases or linked to the clusters of infections in the localities. The imported cases include foreigners and Vietnamese citizens who recently entered the country from abroad and were quarantined upon arrival.

In the past few days, large-scale coronavirus testing was conducted in several localities, including in Bac Giang province, Bac Ninh province and Ho Chi Minh City, mainly among workers at industrial parks, to screen asymptomatic infections.

Vietnam’s Health Ministry has said the country will have more than 120 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines this year, according to a post on the government’s website. 

The total includes five million doses from Moderna, 20 million doses of Sputnik V and 31 million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, it said. 

Vietnam will also acquire 30 million AstraZeneca doses and 38.9 million doses through the Covax initiative, the World Health Organisation-backed effort to buy and distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income nations.

Vietnam will resume international flights to its two biggest cities, officials said on Wednesday, reversing a short-lived ban imposed over fears of a new coronavirus wave.

The country’s Covid-19 cases have more than doubled in the past month, prompting bars, restaurants and schools to close and a rush to secure vaccines. 

As the country struggled to contain a virus outbreak in more than half of its territories, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam had on Monday announced a temporary suspension for international passenger arrivals at Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport till next Monday. 

A similar order was in force for the airport in commercial capital Ho Chi Minh City until June 14.