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‘No truth’ in Indian minister’s claims of Singapore Covid-19 variant

By Channel NewsAsia

Singapore – Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has expressed its concerns to India’s High Commissioner over comments made by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal about a purported Covid-19 variant found in Singapore.

In a press statement today (May 19), MFA said it “regrets the unfounded assertions made on Facebook and Twitter” by Kejriwal that a “variant of Covid-19 found in Singapore was particularly harmful to children and could cause a third wave of infections in India”.

“MFA is disappointed that a prominent political figure had failed to ascertain the facts before making such claims,” said the ministry.

“MFA met the High Commissioner of India P Kumaran this morning to express these concerns.”

Kejriwal’s comment was made on Tuesday. On the same day, Singapore’s Health Ministry said that there was “no truth whatsoever” in the assertion, which was carried by Indian news outlets Hindustan Times and NDTV.

As highlighted by MOH, there is no “Singapore variant”, MFA also said. “The strain prevalent in many of the Covid-19 cases in recent weeks is the B16172 variant, which was first detected in India.”

Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also responded to Kejriwal’s tweet this morning:Posting on Twitter today, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said Kejriwal’s comments were “irresponsible” and that the chief minister “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,” said Jaishankar.

“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.”

Balakrishnan responded to these tweets, thanking Jaishankar and urging focus on “resolving the situation in our respective countries and helping one another”.

“Nobody is safe until everyone is safe,” he said.

In the media reports in India, Kejriwal was cited as urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to immediately cancel air services with Singapore and prioritise the vaccination of children.


Top: People wearing face masks at Bedok Town Square in Singapore on September 4, 2020. Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo, CNA

Home Page: Relatives of a person who died of Covid-19 mourn outside a field hospital in Mumbai, India, on May 4, 2021. Covid-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis. Photo: AP/Rafiq Maqbool, published by CNA

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