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New UK coronavirus variant extremely worrisome: Health Minister

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HCMC – Given the detection of the new UK variant of the coronavirus, the Health Ministry has ordered greater efforts in the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak in Vietnam till the end of the year, to ensure local residents can enjoy the upcoming Lunar New Year or Tet, said Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long at a virtual meeting today, December 23.

The new coronavirus strain, which has been detected in the UK, has triggered concern among scientists and the public over the effectiveness of a Covid-19 vaccine. The new variant prompted more countries to impose lockdowns and suspend flights and entry from the UK. Vietnam is closely monitoring the new variant of the virus, Minister Long said.

According to experts, the new variant could be 70% more transmissible than the previous variants of the virus. During the outbreak of the disease in Danang this July, a new variant was found to increase the transmissibility but it was not like this variant, he added.

The Health Ministry had asked medical centers nationwide to step up efforts to decipher the virus in the specimens of Covid-19 patients returning from Europe or countries that have identified the new variant to figure out how transmissible it is and how it can enter Vietnam, according to the minister.

Up to now, although Vietnam has yet to identify the new variant, the entire country must stay alert to the development of the disease, Long stressed.

Local authorities must tighten control over individuals who enter the country legally or illegally, as the disease could emerge more complicated by the end of the year.

As of December 22, Vietnam’s Covid-19 tally had reached 1,414 cases, with 754 imported cases, 660 locally-transmitted cases and 35 deaths. The country has not reported any fresh case via community transmission for 20 consecutive days.

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