British PM cancels his India visit due to COVID-19 crisis
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has canceled his planned visit to India next week due to the coronavirus situation in the country, Downing Street said on Monday. Johnson will instead speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month to launch their plans for the future UK-India partnership, with their physical meeting expected later in the year.
Prime Ministers to meet later this year
Downing Street in a joint statement issued on behalf of the British and Indian governments said, "Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India." PMs' will remain in regular contact, and look forward to meeting in person later this year, the statement further said.
The visit was previously shortened to a day
Pressure had been mounting on Johnson to call off the visit amid growing concerns of a new variant of COVID-19 detected in the country. Over the weekend, UK Opposition Labour Party joined calls for him to conduct the discussions remotely via Zoom and cancel the physical visit, which had already been shortened to focus on a day-long packed schedule on Monday, April 26.
Johnson's visit had been canceled once before
The visit, previously postponed from a Republic Day tour in January, was to be the first major bilateral visit for Johnson outside Europe since the UK general election in December 2019 and the conclusion of the Brexit transition period at the end of 2020. Coronavirus cases in the UK have crossed the 4.39 million mark with deaths exceeding a rather large number of 127K.
India's COVID-19 tally crosses 1.5 crore-mark
India on Monday reported 2.73 lakh new coronavirus infections, marking the biggest single-day spike since the pandemic began. The nationwide tally has now crossed 1.5 crore. Meanwhile, over 1,600 more patients died in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,78,769. At least 15 out of India's 36 states and union territories reported a record rise in infections on the day.