The United Kingdom has a set of protocols that will be used to deal with the situation that has come up after two members of the Indian delegation led by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting tested positive for COVID-19, said an official of the British High Commission here.
During a press interaction, British High Commissioner Alex Ellis said officials in London will determine the course of action to be followed to safeguard the health of those involved in the event.
“It is the first summit after the pandemic began. We have a set of protocols. Our approach will be guided by the public health authorities of England and details will be emerging soon about that,” said Mr. Ellis who reminded that the U.K. faced a tough COVID-19 scenario last year and that there is a lot to learn from that experience. The G7 summit will be hosted by the U.K. during June 11-13 where PM Modi is expected to represent India, a guest country.
Sources here maintained that the Indian delegation did not travel with COVID-19 infection and is now working with the U.K. authorities on the protocol to be followed. “Entire delegation is in quarantine. External Affairs Minister has made all meetings virtual. Later in the day, we will know what U.K. health authorities suggest. None are unwell, most have been vaccinated fully. They had all had tests before the take off,” said an informed source here who maintained that the tests were carried out on Sunday when they turned to be negative.
The question on the health scare came up after the Sky News reported that the two members had tested positive. Mr Jaishankar has been in London for the past three days meeting his counterparts. The visit was significant as it was the “first in-person” meeting of the Ministers of G7 and the partner countries. On Monday, he met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss COVID-19 related assistance from the U.S. On Tuesday, he met British Home Secretary Priti Patel just hours before the Indian and the British Prime Ministers held a bilateral virtual summit.
Following the meting, Ms. Patel said, “A pleasure to welcome Dr. S. Jaishankar to the UK Home Office today as we signed the landmark Migration and Mobility deal as part of our New Plan for Immigration, providing new opportunities for our young people to live and work here and in India as we recover from the pandemic.” The two Ministers exchanged the folder of the Migration and Mobility deal after signing it. This was followed by an in-person meeting between Mr. Jaishankar and his South African counterpart Dr. Naledi Pandor. He also met E.U. High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles.
Sources here argued that it is for others to take “protective measures” as the Indian delegation had flown out with negative test results.
Mr. Jaishankar in a social media post announced that he has conducted business in virtual mode as a precaution. “Was made aware yesterday evening of exposure to possible COVID positive cases. As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode. That will be the case with the G7 meeting today as well,” he said on Twitter.
He also interacted with his French and Australian counterparts Jean Yves Le Drian and Marise Payne. However, it is not yet clear if the trilateral meeting was in person or conducted in virtual mode.
Mr. Jaishankar on Wednesday delivered a lecture on the COVID-19 situation in India and blamed “societal complacency” for the outbreak of the second wave. He also claimed that India has neglected the health sector for “75 years”. He is expected to participate virtually later in the day in the meeting of the Foreign Ministers from G7 members. Other guest countries are Australia, South Korea, South Africa and Brunei, the Chair of ASEAN.