Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now. 

Vietnam detects hybrid of Indian and UK COVID-19 variants 

Authorities in Vietnam have detected a new coronavirus strain that is a combination of the Indian and UK coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) variants and spreads quickly by air, the health minister said on Saturday. Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said Vietnam would soon publish genome data of the newly identified variant, which he said was more transmissible than the previously known types. 

Vietnam’s business hub Ho Chi Minh City will begin social distancing measures for 15 days starting from May 31 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, the government said on Sunday. State-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported Ho Chi Minh City authorities would conduct COVID-19 tests city-wide with testing capacity at 100,000 samples per day. 

Victoria cluster swells to 51 

Australia’s second most populous state of Victoria, epicenter of the country’s latest coronavirus hotspot, reported 11 new cases of community transmission on Monday, taking the current cluster to 51. The swelling numbers have raised questions over whether the lockdown will be extended beyond the seven days announced initially. 

Authorities are also concerned about the prospect of a larger outbreak in aged care homes after two workers and one resident at the Arcare facility in Melbourne tested positive, the home operator said in a statement. 

Japan considers asking Olympic fans for negative COVID tests 

Japan is considering requiring negative COVID-19 test results or vaccination records from fans attending the Tokyo Olympics, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Monday, as a new poll showed public opposition to the Games remained strong. Foreign spectators have already been banned and game organizers are expected to make a decision next month on whether Japanese fans will be able to attend and under what conditions. 

The report was met with outrage among some social media users, with thousands of tweets criticizing the country’s continued push to host the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic. The term “negative test certificate” was trending on Twitter in Japan, garnering over 8,000 tweets on Monday morning. 

UK vaccine passport plans to be scrapped  The Telegraph 

Britain plans to drop COVID-19 passports as a legal requirement for large events, The Daily Telegraph reported on Sunday. The UK officials reviewing COVID-19 status certificates believe there is no chance the law will be changed to mandate their use within the UK, the report added. 

A government spokesman said in an emailed statement to Reuters that the COVID-19 vaccine certification review is still in process and no decision has yet been made. 

Automakers in India’s Detroit allowed to operate 

Carmakers in the Indian automobile hub of Chennai will be allowed to keep operating, the state government said on Saturday, amid protests by workers who fear catching COVID-19 in one of the country’s hardest-hit states. 

Hundreds of workers in and around Chennai  often dubbed India’s Detroit  have fallen ill with COVID-19 and dozens have died, labor unions say. Union sources at Hyundai, Ford and Renault-Nissan said they were continuing to talk with the companies. Global carmakers operating in Chennai have said they will prioritize worker safety and social-distancing protocols. — Reuters