The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson has canceled his visit to India amid a massive COVID-19 surge in the country.
It was announced on Monday that the British Prime Minister would not be visiting India next week as planned.
The decision to cancel Johnson’s tour of India was taken by mutual consent.
“In view of this COVID-19 pandemic situation, it has been decided by mutual agreement that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will not visit India next week.
The two sides will hold a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for transformed India-UK relations,” the Indian Foreign Ministry said.
This is the second time this year that the British Prime Minister has postponed or canceled his visit to India. Johnson is scheduled to visit India in January as the chief guest at the annual Republic Day parade. However, the visit was suspended due to the COVID-19 surge in the United Kingdom at the time.
Johnson’s office issued a statement on the cancellation of the trip, his first major bilateral foreign trip since taking office in 2019.
“Given the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be visiting India next week,” the UK Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement, adding that the leaders of the two countries would “speak out” later this month to “accept” and launch their ambitious plans for future partnerships between the UK and India.
Britain’s opposition Labor Party on Sunday called for the cancellation of its India tour, which is set to begin on Sunday. Concerns are growing about the new double mutant variant of COVID-19 being discovered in India.
Britain has identified 77 cases of the ‘Double Mutant’ Indian variant and its public health authorities have classified the species as Variant Under Investigation (VUI).
Downing Street had earlier said that the schedule of the trip had been reduced and that the PM’s program would mainly include talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
The UK government minister said it had not yet been proven whether the Indian variant was capable of escaping further infection or vaccine protection.
“I’m told you that this particular variant is likely to revolve around the vaccine or … it’s more contagious than others – but we’m looking at it, it’s being studied,” said Environment Secretary George Justis.
The variant behind the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic that India is currently facing – officially cited as B.1.617.