Vietnam will suspend incoming international flights to capital Hanoi from Tuesday as part of the country's effort to contain a coronavirus outbreak, the government said Monday.
The announcement made no mention of domestic flights. Vietnam has been restricting the amount of inbound international flights since the start of the pandemic.
Vietnam's most populous city and main business hub, Ho Chi Minh City, imposed social distancing measures for 15 days starting Monday.
Vietnam's health officials will conduct around 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day in Ho Chi Minh to trace and contain a suspected new virus variant which authorities said appeared to be a hybrid of two highly infectious strains, CNN said Monday.
Since late April Vietnam has reported a rise in infections. Nearly 50% of its 6,396 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date were reported in the past month alone, data by Johns Hopkins University shows.
Authorities identified a new COVID-19 strain that is a combination of the coronavirus variants first detected in the UK and India and spreads quickly by air, Vietnam Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said.
"That the new one is an India variant with mutations that originally belong to the UK variant is very dangerous," Long told a government meeting, a recording of which was obtained by Reuters.
As it currently stands, Ho Chi Minh has around 400 teams dedicated to the mass-testing of residents, and there are plans to deploy 400 more medical students to carry out rapid testing, according to MashableSE Asia.
Vietnam was regarded as a leading example in containing the virus thanks to aggressive health measures of early screening of passengers at airports and a strict quarantine and monitoring program.
Meanwhile, Malaysia's Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said all malls will have to be shut as the country's COVID-19 numbers have continued to surge.
Malaysia reported almost 7,000 new cases of the virus Sunday. It currently has more than 560,000 cases nationwide.
In the Philippines, the people need not panic over news of Vietnam's hybrid COVID-19 variant, the Department of Health said Monday.
"For now we still don't have sufficient evidence for this," Philippine Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
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