UK PM's India trip cancelled due to Covid surge

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Narendra Modi during a meeting in 2017. [Flickr]

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his trip to India in the wake of the severity of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, the Downing Street confirmed on Monday.

The visit had been scheduled for April 26.

In a statement, it said that Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi “will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India”, dpa news agency reported.

“They will remain in regular contact beyond this, and look forward to meeting in person later this year,” it added.

Johnson was initially scheduled to visit India in January but the trip was cancelled when the UK entered a national lockdown, the third of its kind since the onset of the pandemic last years.

In a report, the BBC said that the UK government had hoped the rescheduled visit in April would boost trade and investment ties, and move the two countries closer to securing a post-Brexit trade agreement.

Last week, Downing Street had said Johnson’s visit would be scaled down, rather than across four days as originally planned.

The cancellation comes as India under the second wave of the pandemic has been reporting over 2 lakh single-day cases since the past five days.

On Monday, the overall caseload went up to 15,061,919 after the country registered 2,73,810 new infections in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day spike since the onset of the pandemic.

The death toll increased by 178,769 by another 1,619 new fatalities.

Meanwhile, India is not currently on the UK government’s “red list”, meaning people returning from the country do not have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days, the BBC rpeorted.

Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor for NHS Test and Trace, said the UK did not have enough data yet to determine if India should be put on the list.