Vietnam gets first 'S. African' COVID case

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Vietnam has confirmed its first case of the highly infectious coronavirus variant from South Africa in an overseas arrival.

The 25-year-old South African man arrived at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport on December 19 and was tested for coronavirus four days later while in quarantine, the health ministry said in a statement.

He is being treated at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi.

The detection of the South African variant comes as Vietnam is battling an outbreak linked to the British strain of the virus, with 221 cases confirmed since two clusters emerged in northern Vietnam on Thursday.

The outbreak has now spread to eight provinces and major cities including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Authorities in Hanoi have asked all schools to close starting on Monday.

Vietnam's Health Ministry on Sunday morning confirmed 14 new community transmissions, bringing the total of officially confirmed cases in the country to 1781, with 35 deaths.