A Japanese expert who died in a hotel in Hanoi in mid-February was identified as being infected with a new coronavirus variant, the fifth of its kind in Vietnam, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long confirmed on Wednesday.
According to genetic sequencing results, the new variant is referred to as 20C -- a form of the virus which has been circulating primarily in South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, and Taiwan -- and is not a highly contagious strain.
Japan, however, has yet to document any case of the 20C variant.
It is the first time the variant has been detected in Vietnam and is the fifth coronavirus mutation to have been found in the Southeast Asian country.
The other four variants include B.1.1.7 from the UK and B.1.351 first detected in South Africa, both belonging to the 'B lineage,' the 'A lineage' (referred to as A.23.1) originally emerging in Rwanda in October 2020, and D614G popularly known to scientists as 'G.'
As more variants are detected, Minister Long forewarned that “the pathogen may still exist in the community, so it is necessary to raise vigilance for pandemic prevention.”
Regarding the deceased Japanese citizen, posthumous test results after he had been found dead at a hotel in Tay Ho District, Hanoi on February 13 showed that he was positive for the novel coronavirus.
The man, who was an expert working for the Hanoi branch of Mitsui & Co. Vietnam Ltd., completed 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 had recorded 2,412 coronavirus cases, including 1,513 local infections, as of Thursday morning, with 1,804 recoveries and 35 virus-related fatalities, according to the Ministry of Health’s data.
In the latest wave, 636 cases were recorded in Hai Duong, 61 in Quang Ninh Province, 27 in Gia Lai Province, 35 in Hanoi, five in Bac Ninh Province, two in Bac Giang Province, 36 in Ho Chi Minh City, two in Hoa Binh Province, one in Ha Giang Province, three in Dien Bien Province, six in Binh Duong Province, four in Hai Phong, and two in Hung Yen Province.