It was reported that the Ministry of Health (MOH) issued a statement yesterday night (18 May) to swiftly rebut Indian media reports over comments made by Delhi Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, claimed on his Twitter account yesterday that a new variant of COVID-19 found in Singapore is “very dangerous for children” and called on Modi’s government to immediately suspend air travels with Singapore. He warned that the variant can “come as a third wave” in India.
“A new variant of coronavirus found in Singapore is being said to be very dangerous for children. This can usher in the third wave (of COVID-19) in India,” he said. “I appeal to the Central government to immediately halt air services with Singapore.”
In response to the Delhi Chief Minister’s claims, MOH refuted that there is no ‘Singapore variant’. “The strain that is prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated in India,” it said.
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also called in the Indian High Commissioner today (19 May) to covey Singapore’s strong objection to the “Singapore variant” claim made by Delhi Chief Minister yesterday. The Indian High Commissioner clarified that Delhi Chief Minister has “no competence to pronounce on Covid variants or civil aviation policy”.
India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar then weighed in to criticise Delhi Chief Minister, saying that the Chief Minister “does not speak for India” and that “irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships.”
Dr Jaishankar further added that Singapore and India have been “solid partners” in the fight against Covid-19 and that India appreciates Singapore’s role as a logistics hub and oxygen supplier. “Their gesture of deploying military aircraft to help us speaks of our exceptional relationship,” he said.
Notwithstanding the assurance of Dr Jaishankar, the Delhi State Government continues to insist that there is a “Singapore variant” which came into India.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain insisted, “Wrong to say that there is no Covid strain particular to Singapore. There are many Covid strains in India. I will give you a clarification on the Singapore strain very soon. But be assured that there is a new strain in India (which originated in Singapore).”
This was reported by CNN News18 in India not long after Dr Jaishankar has spoken.