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Covid-19 Strain in Singapore 'Different', Claims Delhi Health Minister

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain (File photo/PTI)

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain (File photo/PTI)

The Delhi chief minister on Tuesday called for cancelling all air services with Singapore with immediate effect, saying a strain of coronavirus found in that country could reach Delhi in the form of a third wave.

Amid criticism over Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's Singapore COVID-19 variant remark, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday claimed there was a "different strain" of coronavirus spreading in that country. Jain's comments came hours after the Singapore government conveyed to the Indian High Commissioner its strong objection to Kejriwal's comments about a "Singapore variant" of COVID-19.

The Delhi chief minister on Tuesday called for cancelling all air services with Singapore with immediate effect, saying a strain of coronavirus found in that country could reach Delhi in the form of a third wave. "There are many strains of coronavirus in India at present… Their presence is ascertained through genome sequencing. It is a different strain (in Singapore) indeed. Whether it is from Singapore, Delhi, America or London, what's important is that the strains are different," Jain told reporters. "It is wrong to say it is not a different variant… The picture will be clear in some time. We will inform you about it," he said.

The minister said the Delhi government had also called for cancelling flights from the UK last year. "Then also, it was considered an unwarranted demand. I think we should do whatever possible to protect the country." Earlier in the day, MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian High Commissioner conveyed to the Singapore government that the Delhi chief minister has no competence to comment on COVID variants. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the Delhi chief minister does not speak for India.

"Singapore Government called in our High Commissioner today to convey strong objection to Delhi CM's tweet on 'Singapore variant'. High Commissioner clarified that Delhi CM had no competence to pronounce on COVID variants or civil aviation policy," Bagchi tweeted. Kejriwal had Tuesday tweeted in Hindi, "The new form of coronavirus in Singapore is said to be very dangerous for children. It could reach Delhi in the form of a third wave. My appeal to the central government: 1. Cancel all air services with Singapore with immediate effect 2. Work on vaccine alternatives for children on a priority basis.

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In its reaction, the Singapore Health Ministry said there was no truth in the claim.

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