Singapore on Wednesday summoned the Indian envoy and conveyed “strong objection" to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s remark on a “Singapore variant", the government said, adding that the envoy had told them Kejriwal “had no competence" on Covid variants.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, while hailing India’s relationship with Singapore, said the Delhi CM “does not speak for India".
“Singapore and India have been solid partners in the fight against Covid-19. Appreciate Singapore’s role as a logistics hub and oxygen supplier. Their gesture of deploying military aircraft to help us speaks of our exceptional relationship. However, irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships. So, let me clarify - Delhi CM does not speak for India," the Foreign Minister tweeted.
Kejriwal had appealed to the Central government on Tuesday to immediately cancel all air services with Singapore, saying a new strain of coronavirus there is said to be “very dangerous" for children. This new strain of virus could invade India in the form of a third wave, he said in a tweet.
“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," Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.
The Singapore Embassy in India on Tuesday hit out at the Delhi Chief Minister, saying that there was no truth supporting his remark.
“There is no truth in the assertion that there is a new COVID strain in Singapore. Phylogenetic testing has shown that the B.1.617.2 variant is the prevalent strain in many of the COVID cases, including in children, in recent weeks in Singapore," the embassy said in a tweet.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri on Tuesday evening reminded Kejriwal that international passenger flights to and from India have been suspended - with some exceptions - since March last year, when the country went into a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.
“Kejriwal ji, international flights have been closed since March 2020. We do not even have an ‘air bubble’ arrangement with Singapore. There are only a few flights - Vande Bharat Missions - to bring back Indians stranded there. After all, these are our own people," Puri tweeted. “We are keeping our eye on the situation and all precautions are being taken," he added.
Many other countries including the United Kingdom have reported a spike in infections since mid-April with the B.1.617.2 variant making up the majority of new cases.