Covid scare erupts at G7 summit after Indian delegates test positive

Sky News, citing sources, reported that two members of India's delegation accompanying the foreign minister to the United Kingdom had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was participating virtually in the event after coming into contact with the suspected cases, although he has not tested positive.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar following a bilateral meeting in London on 3 May 2021, during the G7 foreign ministers meeting.

The talks this week are the first face-to-face meetings the G7 powers have had in more than two years.

The two Indian cases were picked up by advance testing and none of the party had attended the summit venue.

"As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I made a decision to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode".

The second day of the two-day G7 meeting on Wednesday is due to focus on attempts to bolster open societies and make coronavirus vaccines available around the world.

A senior United Kingdom diplomat said they "deeply regret" Mr Jaishankar could not attend in person. Earlier on Tuesday, the External Affairs Minister met UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to sign a new Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement. Jaishankar arrived in London on Monday for a four-day visit as one of the guest ministers.

Face masks were worn for the official photograph and handshakes have been replaced by forearm bumps to avoid the risk of contamination.

India is not a member of the G7, but its delegation was invited to the meeting as a guest.

"The addition of our friends from Australia, India, the Republic of Korea and South Africa, as well as the chair of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) reflects the growing significance of the Indo Pacific region for the G7", said Raab.

The Indian High Commission in London did not respond to requests for comment.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said "the U.S. delegation was advised, including by the U.K.'s public health professionals, that our stringent masking, social distancing, and daily testing protocols would permit us to continue with our G7 activities as planned".

Besides, there is strict guidance on social distancing in place for the whole summit and delegates often separated by Perspex screens in meetings and during working lunches/dinners.

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