New Delhi (AFP)
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, in Britain for G7 meetings, said on Wednesday he would hold his talks virtually after being exposed to possible coronavirus cases.
The foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States conclude three days of talks in London ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit on next month in Cornwall, in the south of England.
India is not part of the Group of Seven Wealthy Democracies, but has been invited to the talks by Britain, which holds the group’s rotating presidency through 2021.
“Was made aware last night of exposure to possible positive Covid cases,” Jaishankar tweeted.
“As a precautionary measure and also out of consideration for others, I decided to carry out my engagements in virtual mode. This will also be the case with the G7 meeting today. “
Sky News reported earlier that there had been two positive cases within the Indian delegation.
A senior British diplomat said in a statement that “we deeply regret” Jaishankar’s absence for Wednesday’s face-to-face meeting.
“But that’s exactly why we have strict Covid protocols and daily testing in place. “
Jaishankar met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in person, both masked, on Monday evening on the sidelines of the foreign ministers’ summit.
Blinken has already received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
The US State Department said it had been informed, including by public health professionals in Britain, that its health protocols “would allow us to continue our G7 activities as planned.”
“We have no reason to believe that any member of our delegation is in danger. We will continue to follow the advice of public health professionals in the future and adhere to the same strict Covid-19 protocols, ”said spokesperson Ned Price.
India, the world’s second most populous country, has been hit by a devastating wave of infections in recent weeks, which has brought its total number of cases to more than 20.6 million.
The massive spike – which hit major cities hard, including the capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai – pushed the healthcare system to the breaking point, overwhelming hospitals and leading to severe shortages of beds, oxygen and other essential medical supplies.
The country of 1.3 billion people on Wednesday reported more than 382,000 new infections and 3,780 deaths – its highest death toll to date in the pandemic.
The G7 was due to discuss coronavirus vaccines on Wednesday amid mounting pressure on the group to share its stocks and know-how with poor countries.
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