Vietnam health officials say a mutated form of the coronavirus is behind a recent spike of infections across the country.
Last week, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the current wave of infections was different than what the country fought against in March, and pointed out that “every province and city in the country was at risk.”
What are the details?
Vietnam Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long made the announcement on Sunday, according to a Reuters report on Monday.
The strain, the minister says, has been seen in Bangladesh and the British Isles, but is new to Vietnam.
Scientists say that while the strain appears to be new, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s more dangerous than other known strains.
The outlet reported that each patient confirmed to have the new strain has been found to infect between five and six people.
This new number is compared with a previous rate of 1.8 to 2.2 infections per patient, Long said in his Sunday remarks about the mutation.
The country went 99 days without any new confirmed COVID-19 cases, but the streak ended on July 25.
According to a July Reuters report, Vietnam was the most populous country in the world to have recorded no COVID-19 deaths until the new strain hit the country.
At the time of this reporting, researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimate that there have been at least 642 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with at least six attributed to the deadly virus.
Between July 25 and Aug. 3, there have been at least 225 confirmed cases in the country, which health officials attribute to the new outbreak.
Business Insider points out that the majority of the new cases have been discovered in coastal city, Da Nang, which frequently saw beach tourists on vacation over the last several weeks.
New cases are more severe
Marc Choisy, a biomathematician for Oxford University’s clinical research unit in Hanoi, told the Associated Press that the new strain appears to be more severe.
“One big difference I’ve noticed between this wave and the previous one is that the cases we have right now, a lot of them are severe,” he explained.