Vietnam's Health Ministry on Saturday said it has detected a new variant of the coronavirus that is a mix of the virulent Indian and UK variants, and spreads quickly by air, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said on Saturday.
"After running gene sequencing on newly detected patients, we have discovered a new variant that is a mix of India and UK ones," news website VnExpress quoted Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long as saying.
"More specifically, it is an Indian variant with mutations that originally belonged to the UK variant."
The Health Ministry said the new variant is thought to be much more transmissible than the previously known types. Laboratory cultures of the mixed variant also show that the virus replicates itself very quickly.
After successfully containing the virus for most of last year, Vietnam is now in the midst of itsmost intense COVID outbreak since the pandemic began. Long said the new variant could help explain why cases in Vietnam have been rising so quickly.
More than 3,600 COVID infections have been reported across Vietnam since the end of April alone. Just under 6,400 COVID cases have been reported in total.