EAM Jaishankar Joins G7 Meet Virtually in UK After COVID-19 Scare
A UK diplomat said, “We deeply regret that Dr Jaishankar will be unable to attend the meeting today in person.”
India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, who is in London on a four-day visit to take part in the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' meeting, joined Wednesday’s Foreign Ministers’ meeting virtually, after two members of the Indian delegation reportedly tested COVID positive.
“So far, yet so near,” Jaishankar tweeted.
After PCR tests as part of Public Health England’s testing programme, two Indian delegation members were found to be COVID positive on Tuesday.
Earlier on Wednesday, Jaishankar took to Twitter to announce that he had been made aware on Tuesday evening of exposure to possible COVID patients and would be conducting my engagements virtually.
“That will be the case with the G7 Meeting today as well,” he wrote.
Reports said that with further tests awaited, a bilateral meeting scheduled with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Kent on Thursday may go virtual as well.
Although India is not a G7 member, it was among other countries invited to attend the first in-person meeting of the group's foreign ministers in more than two years in London this week.
The meeting was described as “COVID-secure talks” ahead of this June’s full G7 summit in Cornwall.
The Indian delegation was due to attend G7 meetings at London's Lancaster House on Wednesday. However, they will now virtually take part in those meetings.
Despite the self-isolation now, Indian ministers and officials held some other meetings before the Lancaster House talks. On Tuesday, Home Secretary Priti Patel had met Jaishankar as the pair signed a new UK-India migration agreement.
As mask-wearing and social distancing was observed during the Indian delegation's in-person meetings this week, it is understood Public Health England does not see a need for those who came in contact to also self-isolate.
Taking This Very Seriously: Vaccine Minister
A senior UK diplomat was quoted as saying, “We deeply regret that Dr Jaishankar will be unable to attend the meeting today (Wednesday) in person but will now attend virtually, but this is exactly why we have put in place strict COVID protocols and daily testing.”
On Wednesday morning, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said he was unaware of reports of G7 delegates self-isolating following a COVID scare.
Zahawi added, "Public Health England and the team organising G7 are taking this very seriously. We continue to have one of the most robust set of protocols around testing. We will make sure that happens."
The meeting, chaired by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, was on Wednesday expected to consider global equitable access to vaccines.
With India facing the second wave, Raab added, “Obviously there’s a good opportunity because India’s here to engage on all of those (medical support) aspects and I think it’s important when you are going through the storm to really listen to what they need.”
India has received aid from several countries, including the UK, which sent three oxygen generation units to India last week. Each of these units have the capacity to produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute. “We stand with our Indian friends in their fight against COVID-19,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had earlier said in a statement.
They also sent 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators to India. PM Boris Johnson announced that the country was planning to send an additional 1,000 ventilators to the country.
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