Singapore rejects Delhi chief’s claims about new Covid-19 variant

Folks stroll on their lunch break on the Raffles Place monetary enterprise district in Singapore on Might 5, 2021.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Photos

SINGAPORE — Singapore has ordered Fb, Twitter and a neighborhood writer to appropriate what it says is a false assertion circulating that means a brand new coronavirus variant originated within the city-state and dangers spreading to India.

Below a regulation aimed toward stopping the unfold of falsehoods on-line — formally named POFMA, or Safety from On-line Falsehoods and Manipulation Act — Singapore’s Well being Minister Ong Ye Kung instructed the 2 social media giants and SPH Magazines to subject a correction discover to their customers in Singapore. SPH Magazines owns a preferred discussion board referred to as HardwareZone.

“There isn’t any new ‘Singapore’ variant of Covid-19. Neither is there proof of any Covid-19 variant that’s ‘extraordinarily harmful for youths,'” Singapore’s Ministry of Well being stated.

“The pressure that’s prevalent in lots of the Covid-19 instances detected in Singapore in latest weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated from India,” it added. “The existence and unfold of the B.1.617.2 variant inside India predates the detection of the variant in Singapore, and this has been publicly identified and reported by numerous media sources from as early as 5 Might 2021.”

The Covid variant B.1.617 was first detected in India final yr. The World Well being Group not too long ago dubbed the B.1.617 a “variant of concern,” which signifies that it is turn out to be a world well being risk.

What occurred?

The transfer from Singapore got here after unsubstantiated feedback from an Indian politician this week sparked a diplomatic incident between the 2 international locations.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday tweeted {that a} new coronavirus variant in Singapore is claimed to be extraordinarily harmful for kids and will lead to a 3rd wave in India. He didn’t present any proof to again his claims.

What was the response?

Kejriwal was publicly rebuked by the international ministers of each international locations.

“Politicians ought to stick with details! There isn’t any ‘Singapore variant,'” Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s international minister, stated in a tweet in response to Kejriwal’s declare.

Singapore’s Ministry of Overseas Affairs stated Wednesday it regrets the “unfounded assertions” made by Kejriwal.

“MFA is disillusioned {that a} distinguished political determine had failed to determine the details earlier than making such claims. MFA met the Excessive Commissioner of India P Kumaran this morning to precise these issues,” the foreign ministry said.

India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said the two countries have been “solid partners” in the fight against the pandemic.

“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 on Twitter. Jaishankar beforehand served as India’s excessive commissioner to Singapore.

India’s civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri responded to Kejriwal’s comments on Twitter, and identified that worldwide flights to India have been suspended since March 2020.

He additionally identified that India and Singapore should not have an air journey bubble and that New Delhi solely runs repatriation flights from the city-state to convey again stranded Indians.

“Nonetheless, we have now our eyes on the state of affairs. All precautions are being taken,” Puri stated, in keeping with a CNBC translation of his remarks in Hindi.

Covid in India and Singapore

India is the second worst-infected country in the world behind the United States and is facing a devastating second wave. So far, India has reported more than 25 million cases and over 287,000 deaths, but experts suggest the numbers have been severely undercounted.

Delhi has been one of the worst-hit regions in the country where hospitals have faced shortages in hospital beds, oxygen supply and medicines to treat Covid-19 patients.

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