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.

India received 17 consignments of medical aid from nations to battle Covid surge

Between April 24 and May 2, India has received 17 consignments – comprising essential medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, cylinders of medical oxygen, ventilators and BiPAP machines, bedside monitors, anti-viral drugs, rapid kits to detect Covid-19 virus, pulse oximeters, N95 masks and personal protective equipment among others — from at least 14 countries.

The Centre on Tuesday prepared an exhaustive list of consignments of medical equipment that India has received from different nations amid spiraling surge in coronavirus disease cases.

The government said between April 24 and May 2, India has received 17 consignments – comprising of essential medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, cylinders of medical oxygen, ventilators and BiPAP machines, bedside monitors, anti-viral drugs, rapid kits to detect Covid-19 virus, pulse oximeters, N95 masks and personal protective equipment among others -- from 14 countries.

The United Kingdom was the first to rush its consignment to India on April 24, where it sent 95 oxygen concentrators, 20 Lumis BiPAP machines, 20 ventilators and allied equipment. They were sent to various hospitals in the national capital.

MID

The aid continued to flow in. Singapore was the next nation to send 256 oxygen cylinders on May 28, at a time when both government-run and private hospitals across the country reported shortages in supply of medical oxygen to critical patients.

Government officials aware of the developments said the oxygen concentrators from Singapore were uniformly distributed among All India Institute of Medical Science in Bhubaneswar, Patna, Raipur and Ranchi.

Russia, too, extended help to India by sending oxygen concentrators, lung ventilators, bedside monitors and at least 200,000 packs of anti-viral drug Favipiravir, used to treat symptoms related to the coronavirus disease.

Even countries like Romania sent at least 75 oxygen cylinders and 80 oxygen concentrators, which helped hospitals in Delhi such as Lady Hardinge, Safdarjung and Aiims Jhajhhar, data shared by the government shows.

Some of the other counties that have helped India in times of its crisis are the United States, UAE, Ireland, Thailand, Germany, France, Uzbekistan and Taiwan.

The biggest consignment that India has received so far are from the US and United Arab Emirates. The US sent 714,301 rapid detection kits, 125,000 Remdesivir vials, 994,800 N95 masks apart from oxygen cylinders in two separate consignments while the UAE rushed in 480 ventilators, 170,7600 masks and hundreds and thousands of PPE kits, the data reveals.

Akshay, Karan, Ajay comes out in support of GoI’s call to "stand together"

Bollywood celebrities including Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Suniel Shetty, Karan Johar and Ekta Kapoor among others come out in support of the Government of India call to "stand together".

Reacting to the statements by International celebrities, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement highlighting the reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector.

The reformist legislation relating to the agriculture sector was passed by the Parliament of India after full debate and discussion, the Ministry of External Affairs stated.

The statement reads, “These reforms give expanded market access and provided greater flexibility to farmers. They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming. A very small section of farmers in parts of India has some reservations about these reforms. Respecting the sentiments of the protesters, the GoI has initiated a series of talks with their representatives. Union Ministers have been part of the negotiations, and eleven rounds of talks have already been held. The Government has even offered to keep the laws on hold, an offer iterated by no less than the Prime Minister of India.”

The Ministry also alleged that some vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them. This was egregiously witnessed on January 26, India’s Republic Day. “A cherished national commemoration, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Constitution of India, was besmirched, and violence and vandalism took place in the Indian Capital. Some of these vested interest groups have also tried to mobilize international support against India,” the statement reads.

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