May 19, 2021

Singapore objects to Kejriwal's COVID-19 variant remark, Govt says CM does not speak for India

New Delhi, May 19 Singapore on Wednesday conveyed to Indian High Commissioner P Kumaran its strong objection to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's comments that a variant of COVID-19 found in that country was particularly harmful to children and could cause a third wave of infections in India.

Following Singapore foreign ministry's reaction regretting the "unfounded assertions" by Kejriwal, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the Delhi chief minister does not speak for India.

MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian High Commissioner conveyed to the Singapore government that the Delhi chief minister had no competence to comment on COVID variants.

In its statement, the Singapore foreign ministry said there is no "Singapore variant" and that the strain prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which was first detected in 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.

The Singapore foreign ministry said it is disappointed that a prominent political figure had failed to ascertain the facts before making such claims.

Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal 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.

"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 had said in a tweet in Hindi.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Jaishankar said Singapore and India have been solid partners in combating the pandemic and appreciated the country's role as a logistics hub and oxygen supplier.

"Their gesture of deploying military aircraft to help us speaks of our exceptional relationship," Jaishankar said.

"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," he said.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said the assertions made by Kejriwal were "unfounded".

"MFA regrets the unfounded assertions made on Facebook and Twitter by Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind 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," it said.

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

The MFA said it met High Commissioner Kumaran this morning to express these concerns.

"As highlighted by MOH in its press release of 18 May 2021, there is no Singapore variant . The strain prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which was first detected in India," the MFA said.

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