India’s foreign minister is self-isolating after two members of the country’s delegation to G7 meetings in London tested positive for the coronavirus.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said he had been informed that he had been exposed to a possible case of Covid-19.
Jaishankar held a socially distant meeting with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Tuesday where the two men agreed on a “migration and mobility deal,” which will offer a ” tailor-made itinerary ”for young Indian professionals wishing to live and work in the UK. He also met with Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, earlier this week.
Members of the Indian delegation had not yet attended the G7 meetings at Lancaster House, London, where talks took place on Tuesday and continued on Wednesday.
These meetings were the first face-to-face meetings of the group’s foreign ministers in more than two years. Representatives from Australia and India are attending some of the sessions alongside the advanced G7 economies as the UK seeks to strengthen ties in the Indo-Pacific region.
Coronavirus measures were put in place throughout the meetings, including an on-site testing facility, social distancing, the wearing of masks and plexiglass screens, aimed at separating delegates during meetings.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the decision to hold G7 meetings in person, arguing that it was important for the government to “try to keep as much business going” as possible despite the pandemic.
“We have a very important relationship with India and with our G7 partners,” he said during the election campaign ahead of Thursday’s local elections. “As I understand it, what has happened is that the affected individuals are all isolating themselves now,” he said, adding that he would have a meeting with Jaishankar on Wednesday afternoon via Zoom.
Officials believe that, based on discussions with Public Health England, people who have attended meetings with Jaishankar have a low risk of contracting the virus, as coronavirus restrictions were in place and therefore will not need to self-isolate.
G7 meetings, chaired by the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic raab, have focused on geopolitical issues such as climate change, vaccines and threats to democracy and come as the UK hopes to establish its global agenda for Britain and its post-Brexit foreign policy goals.
“As a precaution and also out of consideration for others, I have decided to conduct my engagements in virtual mode,” Jaishankar wrote on Twitter. Officials said the rest of the small Indian delegation will also self-isolate for the rest of the G7 meetings.
“We deeply regret that Foreign Minister Jaishankar is unable to attend the meeting today in person,” said a senior British diplomat. “[He] will now be present virtually, but that is exactly why we have put in place strict Covid protocols and daily testing. “
The positive test comes as India faces a fierce second wave of Covid-19 that has overwhelmed the country’s health system and left many critically ill patients who are struggling to access medical care.
India confirmed nearly 383,000 new infections on Tuesday, down slightly from the peak of over 400,000 new cases on Friday, but testing has fallen sharply from a peak of 1.9 million per day last week to just 1 , 5 million.
More than 3,700 Indians died from Covid on Tuesday, bringing the country’s overall toll since the start of the pandemic to more than 226,000.
But the numbers of new confirmed cases and casualties are believed to be dramatic undercounts, given the scarcity of testing, as many people in rural central India die from respiratory distress and other symptoms. Covid classics.
Supplies such as oxygen generators and life-saving medicine are pouring into India from overseas, as the international community seeks to tackle the worsening humanitarian crisis. However, many complained about the slow delivery of aid.