New Delhi, May 19: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's remarks about a new form of COVID-19 in Singapore sparked off a diplomatic row on Wednesday with the Southeast Asian city-state calling in the Indian envoy and conveying to him its strong objections to the "unfounded assertions".
Following Singapore foreign ministry's reaction, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the Delhi chief minister does not speak for India and that the two countries have been solid partners in combating the pandemic.
Singapore and India have been solid partners in the fight against Covid-19.
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) May 19, 2021
Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi, said the Indian High Commissioner P Kumaran clarified to the Singapore government that the Delhi chief minister had no competence to comment on COVID-19 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 Objects To Arvind Kejriwal's Tweet On 'New COVID-19 Strain', MEA Clarifies 'Delhi CM Does Not Speak For India'.
Kejriwal on Tuesday asked the central government to immediately halt air services with Singapore claiming that a new coronavirus strain found in that country is particularly harmful to children and could trigger a third wave of the pandemic in India. Singapore's health ministry trashed the claim on Tuesday night.
"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.
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.
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) May 19, 2021
Earlier, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan tweeted: "Politicians should stick to facts! There is no 'Singapore variant'." The Singapore foreign ministry said it is disappointed that a prominent political figure had failed to ascertain the facts before making such claims. In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Jaishankar said Singapore and India have been solid partners in combating the pandemic and appreciated the country's role as a logistics hub and oxygen supplier.
"Their gesture of deploying military aircraft to help us speaks of our exceptional relationship," Jaishankar said. "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 said.
Soon after Jaishankar's comments, Balakrishnan thanked his Indian counterpart and called for focusing on resolving the situation in the respective countries and helping one another, adding, "Nobody is safe until everyone is safe." Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said the assertions made by Kejriwal were unfounded.
"MFA regrets the unfounded assertions made on Facebook and Twitter by Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal that a variant of COVID-19 found in Singapore was particularly harmful to children and could cause a third wave of infections in India," it said. COVID-19 Variant Found in Singapore Very Dangerous For Kids, Can Come to India in the Form of Third Wave, Says Arvind Kejriwal.
"MFA is disappointed that a prominent political figure had failed to ascertain the facts before making such claims," it said. The MFA said it met High Commissioner Kumaran this morning to express these concerns. "As highlighted by MOH (Ministry of Health) in its press release of May 18, there is no 'Singapore variant'. 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," the MFA said.
Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal on Tuesday called for cancelling all air services with Singapore with immediate effect. "The new form of 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," Kejriwal had said in a tweet in Hindi.