Singapore on 19 May refuted claims by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal that a new Covid strain had been found in Singapore, which was dangerous for children. The health ministry of that country said that there was no truth in Kejriwal’s assertion.
Following the strong response to Kejriwal’s claims, India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar clarified that “Delhi CM does not speak for India.”
Arvind Kejriwal had on 18 May appealed to the union government to cancel all flights to and from Singapore, citing concerns over a new strain of coronavirus that is said to be dangerous for children.
“The new form of Corona (sic) that came to Singapore is said to be extremely dangerous for children, in India it may come as a third wave. My appeal to the central government: 1. Air services with Singapore to be cancelled with immediate effect 2. Vaccine options should be worked out for children too,” Kejriwal tweeted.
Responding to Kejriwal’s tweet, the health ministry of the small but significant country and ally of India said that there was no “Singapore variant” and that there was “no truth whatsoever in the assertions found within the reports.”
The health ministry further said that “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. Phylogenetic testing has shown this B.1.617.2 variant to be associated with several clusters in Singapore.”
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan responded to Kejriwal’s statement, saying, “Politicians should stick to facts!”
India High Commissioner clarifies
Arindam Bagchi, a joint secretary in the MEA, said, “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.”
Foreign minister Jaishankar added, “However, irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships.”
Singapore issues statement on Kejriwal’s claims
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement today on Arvind Kejriwal’s claims of a new Covid-19 variant in Singapore.
The MFA called it “unfounded assertions” and said, “MFA is disappointed that a prominent political figure had failed to ascertain the facts before making such claims.”
The statement said further that the MFA had met the High Commissioner of India P Kumaran on 19 May morning to express concerns over Kejriwal’s claims.
The statement reiterated that there was no particular “variant” of Covid-19 in their country and said that the strain prevalent in many of the Covid-19 cases in the tropical city-country in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which was first detected in India.