Vietnam has discovered a new variant of the Covid-19 virus. This mutation would be a combination of the Indian and British variants, and would be very contagious, since it is transmissible in the air.

The country is facing a new wave of contaminations in more than half of its territory, including industrial zones and major cities, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam had been affected very little by the virus so far, with just 6,700 cases and 47 deaths reported. But the vast majority of these cases have been recorded since the beginning of April.

Combination of variants

“We have discovered a hybrid variant combining the Indian virus and the British”Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said at a national meeting on the pandemic on Saturday. “The main characteristic of this virus is that it spreads quickly through the air.”

“The concentration of virus in the throat and saliva increases rapidly, and it spreads very quickly in the surrounding environment”, he explained, without specifying how many cases were attributable to this variant.

The characteristics of this new mutation will be published soon, said the minister, to add it to the map of variants in the world.

Tightening of restrictions

This new variant is worrying in Vietnam. The country was applauded last year for its vigorous response to the pandemic, with mass quarantines and a strict system of tracing and isolation. But the current wave of infections worries the population.

The authorities reacted by severely limiting movement and activity: cafes, restaurants, hairdressing or massage salons, as well as tourist or religious sites have been closed in several regions of the country. The arrival of international flights at Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport will be suspended from June 1 at midnight and until June 7 at Noi Bai International Airport, the Civil Aviation Administration announced.

Vietnam, which has 97 million inhabitants, has so far vaccinated just over a million people, but is seeking to increase the rate of vaccination. The authorities hope to achieve collective immunity by the end of the year.