Vietnam confirms first case of UK coronavirus variant

 By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: GMA News

HANOI– Vietnam has reported its first imported case of the new coronavirus variant that originally began circulating in the United Kingdom, the health ministry confirmed on Saturday, January 2.

In a statement, the health ministry reported that the new variant of the coronavirus was detected in a 44-year-old woman returning to Vietnam from Britain, who was quarantined upon arrival and was confirmed positive for the virus on December 24.

"Researchers ran gene-sequencing on the patient's sample and found the strain is a variant known as 'VOC 202012/01'", it said.

The variant includes a genetic mutation that, in theory, could be more contagious than the original strain.

Vietnam is still operating repatriation flights to bring its citizens stuck in the UK home amid the pandemic.

With strict quarantine and tracking measures, Vietnam quickly contained coronavirus outbreaks, allowing economic activity to rebound faster than in much of Asia. It has recorded 1,474 infections, with 35 deaths.

The outbreak of the new coronavirus variant forced the U.K. government to impose stricter lockdown measures on London and other cities in southeastern England before Christmas Day, with several countries responding by banning travel from the U.K. Despite these measures, more than a dozen countries have since reported patients being infected by the new variant.

Countries around the world, including Philippines, have cut off travel links to Britain to stop the spread of the new variant, which scientists have said is 40-70 percent more transmissible than the original virus.


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