Feb 24, 2021 / 17:56

New coronavirus variant found in dead Japanese patient in Vietnam

Five Covid-19 variants have been so far identified in Vietnam, including the infectious strains detected in the UK and South Africa.

Vietnam has said it found a new coronavirus mutant on a deceased Japanese citizen who posthumously tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the country in mid-February.

 Hotel where the Japanese man stays in Hanoi. Photo: Truong Hung/Phunuvietnam

The variant, which is sometimes referred to as 20C, is detected for the first time in Vietnam, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said at a government meeting on February 24.

Associate Prof. Tran Dac Phu, senior advisor to the Vietnam Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PHEOC), said the variant that mainly circulates in South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and India is not a highly contagious strain.

This is the fifth Covid variant detected in Vietnam after the “B lineage” and called B.1.1.7, the variant firstly found in South Africa, the “A lineage” and referred to as A.23.1 firstly detected in Rwanda in October 2020, and D614G known more familiarly to scientists as “G”.

Regarding the Japanese patient, Hanoi quickly conducted genomic sequencing to find the transmission source as the 54-year-old man went to different places before he was found dead at a hotel in Hanoi on February 13.

The man, who was an expert working for MITSUI & CO. VIETNAM LTD, was under quarantine in Ho Chi Minh City between January 17 and 31 before flying to Hanoi where he stayed at the hotel from February 1.

Vietnam is making efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 as new cases remain recorded in some cities and provinces. As of February 24, the country has 2,403 infections, including 643 active.

As more variants are detected, international health experts have warned that the Covid pandemic would likely break out in other parts of the world despite the falling number of infections.