Vietnam finds new coronavirus variant

Coronavirus infections are plummeting across Europe, while in Vietnam a new coronavirus variant has been found – a hybrid of strains first found in India and the UK.

Europe saw the largest decline in new COVID-19 infections and deaths last week compared with any other region, while also reporting about 44 per cent of adults had received at least one dose of vaccines.

As vaccination rates accelerate across Europe so to are people’s plans for summer vacations around the continent.


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International cruise ships will be allowed to dock in Spanish ports again on June 7 since most passengers come from Europe, the Spanish Ministry of Transport says.

However, according to the announcement, the ships will have to fulfil strict health requirements, details of which are to be published soon.

In Britain, the COVID-19 vaccination program was opened to anyone over the age of 30 last week. The program has been gradually expanded and more than 70 per cent of adults have already received at least one dose.

One of them was the Duchess of Cambridge, who received her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, following in the footsteps of her husband who was jabbed earlier this month.

“I’m hugely grateful to everyone who is playing a part in the rollout – thank you for everything you are doing,” said Kate, 39 in a tweet posted Saturday.

Also on Saturday, hundreds of people gathered in central London to protest against the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

Some claimed the pandemic is a hoax, others carried placards reading “My body, my choice,” and protested against the idea of vaccine passports.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has discovered a new coronavirus variant that’s a hybrid of strains first found in India and the UK.

The Vietnamese health minister Nguyen Thanh Long said on Saturday that scientists have examined the genetic makeup of the virus that had infected some recent patients, and found the new version of the virus.

He said lab tests suggested it might spread more easily than other versions of the virus.

Long says the new variant could be responsible for a recent surge in Vietnam, which has spread to 30 of the country’s 63 municipalities and provinces.

Vietnam was initially a standout success in battling the virus. In early May, it had recorded just over 3,100 confirmed cases and 35 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

But in the last few weeks, Vietnam has confirmed more than 3,500 new cases and 12 deaths, increasing the country’s total death toll to 47.

Vietnam so far has vaccinated one million people with AstraZeneca shots.

Last week, it sealed a deal with Pfizer for 30 million doses, which are scheduled to be delivered in the third and fourth quarters of this year. It is also in talks with Moderna that would give it enough shots to fully vaccine 80 per cent of its 96 million people.

On Saturday, in Afghanistan, the Health Ministry announced the shutdown of all public and private universities and schools in the country’s 16 provinces, including Kabul, for at least two weeks.

The decision follows a surge in cases. On Friday, 977 people tested positive for COVID-19 and 18 died, most of them in Kabul. Only 3,800 were tested.

© AP 2021