Suriname's Indian-origin President to be Republic Day chief guest: ReportLast updated on Jan 10, 2021, 05:08 pm
The President of the Republic of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, will reportedly be the chief guest at India's Republic Day event later this month.
India celebrates its 72nd Republic Day on January 26, 2021.
Earlier, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to be the chief guest, however, he had to cancel his visit due to the COVID-19 situation at home.
PMO sources reportedly confirm Santokhi's attendance
Sources in the Prime Minister's Office told News18 on Sunday that Santokhi will be the chief guest for the Republic Day parade.
Santokhi is of Indian origin and was the chief guest at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, held by the Ministry of External Affairs, on Saturday.
During his keynote address on Saturday, he proposed visa-free travel between Suriname and India.
Last month, Johnson had accepted invite to attend R-Day event
India had invited Johnson to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations this year.
Last month, it was announced that he had accepted the invitation, describing it as a "great honor." Johnson had also invited Modi to join the UK-hosted G7 summit.
However, Johnson canceled his plans last week as he is occupied with the COVID-19 response in the UK.
UK witnesses spike in infections as new strain emerges
Notably, a new "more infectious" strain of coronavirus was detected in the UK in September.
The UK is now witnessing an alarming spike in infections and deaths, compelling the government to reimpose a lockdown.
Several countries—including India—have imposed restrictions on UK travel, while the UK government has now made it mandatory for all incoming travelers to carry a negative COVID-19 test.
India-UK air travel restricted to 30 flights per week
Earlier, India had suspended all flights to and from the UK from December 22. However, air travel between the two countries has resumed January 8 onward, albeit with some restrictions.
Thirty flights will operate every week, including 15 each by the Indian and UK carriers, between January 8 and 23.
India has also released fresh surveillance guidelines for the mutated strain.
90 cases involving new strain reported in India
According to the Union Health Ministry, India has reported 90 cases involving the new strain of the virus so far. No new infections were reported in the past 24 hours, the Ministry said on Sunday.
Overall, India has reported 1,04,50,284 COVID-19 cases, including 1,50,999 deaths, 2,23,335 active infections and 1,00,75,950 recoveries.
India is the world's second worst-hit country after the United States.