Vietnam has confirmed its first imported case of the coronavirus strain spreading across Europe, health officials said Sunday.
Patient No. 1,435 - who traveled from the UK to Vietnam Dec. 22 and was put in mandatory isolation on arrival - is the country's first case of the new, more contagious strain.
The woman, who suffers from high blood pressure, started to feel ill a few days after arriving in Vietnam before being diagnosed Dec. 24.
She is at the Hospital for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases in south Vietnam's Tra Vinh province. Her husband, who is still in Britain, has also tested positive for COVID-19.
Cases of the disease have started to increase in a second wave and the number of infections registered in one day has hit a peak Friday. Initial results suggested that the new variant was spreading more quickly among under people 20 years and younger.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Dec. 19 that London and the rest of southeastern England would see rigid restrictions. The variant is said to be 70% more transmissible.
Though there is no proof the variant is deadlier many nations have shut their borders to travelers from Europe. Several countries have also confirmed they, too, had the variant among their populations.
Vietnam is still carrying out repatriation flights to bring its citizens in Britain home.
It will be dangerous if the government fails to initiate early detection and quarantine, Tran Dac Phu, senior adviser to Vietnam's public health emergency operations center, said.
Phu warned that the fatality rate from the new variant was not high but the more people are infected the higher mortality - especially among high-risk groups like the elderly or those with underlying health issues.
"In simpler terms, unless we do something different the new virus variant will continue to spread, more infections, more hospitalizations and more deaths," BBC News quoted professor Jim Naismith of Oxford University as saying.
As of late Saturday, Vietnam had 1,474 cases with 35 fatalities, health authorities said.