Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday created controversy after as he said a new strain of coronavirus has been found in Singapore, which is very dangerous for children. He also urged the Centre to immediately cancel all air services with Singapore. Taking to Twitter, he had written, "The new COVID variant in Singapore is being said to be extremely dangerous for children, in India it may come as a third wave. My appeal to the central government: 1. Air services with Singapore to be cancelled with immediate effect 2. Priority on vaccine options should be worked out for children too."
Meanwhile, Kejriwal's claim has stirred up a hornet's nest.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) late on Tuesday said that there is no truth in the references in reports in a section of Indian media about the presence of a new variant of coronavirus in the country, adding that there is no "Singapore variant". It said that the strain that is prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated in India.
Union Ministers S Jaishankar, Hardeep Singh Puri, and others also slammed Kejriwal over his "Singapore variant" claim.
"Singapore and India have been solid partners in the fight against Covid-19. Appreciate Singapore's role as a logistics hub and oxygen supplier. Their gesture of deploying military aircraft to help us speaks of our exceptional relationship," said Jaishankar. "However, irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships. So, let me clarify- Delhi CM does not speak for India," he added.
Responding to Kejriwal's claim, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri informed him that the international flights are cancelled since March 2020 and also there was no air-bubble with Singapore. Puri tweeted, "Kejriwal ji, international flights since March 2020 is cancelled, there is no air-bubble with Singapore. There are some flights operating under 'Vande Bharat' to bring back Indian's nationals. They are our own people. Yet, we are seeing to it. All precautions are being taken." Kejriwal on Tuesday had cautioned Centre about a 'new Singapore COVID-19 variant' that can hurt children the most.
Meanwhile, the MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian High Commissioner has conveyed to the Singapore government that the Delhi chief minister had no competence to comment on COVID variants. In its statement, the Singapore foreign ministry said there is no "Singapore variant" and that the strain prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which was first detected in 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 tweeted.
(With input from agencies)