COVID-19 strain in Singapore ‘different’, claims Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain

New Delhi: Amid criticism over Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Singapore COVID variant remark, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain claimed on Wednesday that a ‘different strain’ of the coronavirus is spreading in the Southeast Asian country. His comments came hours after the government of Singapore conveyed to the Indian high commissioner its strong objection to Kejriwal’s comments about a ‘Singapore variant’ of COVID-19.

The Delhi Chief Minister called for cancelling all air services with Singapore with immediate effect on Tuesday, saying a strain of the coronavirus found in the Southeast Asian country could reach Delhi in the form of a third wave of the pandemic. “There are many strains of the coronavirus in India at present…. Their presence is ascertained through genome-sequencing. It is a different strain (in Singapore) indeed. Whether it is from Singapore, Delhi, America or London…What is important is that the strains are different,” Jain told reporters.

“It is wrong to say it is not a different variant…. The picture will be clear in some time. We will inform you about it,” he said. Jain pointed out that the Delhi government had also called for cancelling flights from London last year.

“Then also, it was considered an unwarranted demand. I think we should do whatever possible to protect the country,” he said. Earlier in the day, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian high commissioner in Singapore conveyed to the government of that country that Kejriwal has “no competence” to comment on COVID variants. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the Delhi chief minister does not speak for 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 said in a tweet.

In a tweet in Hindi, Kejriwal said on Tuesday: “The new form of the 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.”

Reacting to it, Singapore’s health ministry said there was no truth in the claim.

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