COVID: No truth of ‘Singapore variant’ in reports by Hindustan Times, NDTV – Ministry of Health

·Editorial Team
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Travellers wait in the departure hall of Changi International Airport in Singapore on March 15, 2021. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Travellers wait in the departure hall of Changi International Airport on 15 March 15 2021. (PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images)

[UPDATE on 19 May: Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues statement.]

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has met with the High Commissioner of India to express disappointment over COVID-related remarks by a prominent political figure in India. 

In a media statement on Wednesday (19 May), the MFA said it "regrets the unfounded assertions made on Facebook and Twitter by Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal that a variant of COVID-19 found in Singapore was particularly harmful to children and could cause a third wave of infections in India".

"MFA is disappointed that a prominent political figure had failed to ascertain the facts before making such claims," it added. 

Earlier on Tuesday evening, the Ministry of Health had said that there is “no truth whatsoever” of a “Singapore variant” of COVID-19, in response to media queries about two reports from two Indian media companies.

The reports referred to by MOH are Hindustan Times ("Coronavirus variant found in Singapore can be India's 3rd wave, extremely dangerous for kids, warns Arvind Kejriwal") and NDTV (“Stop Singapore Flights: Arvind Kejriwal To Centre Over New Covid Strain”), both published on Tuesday.

“The strain that is prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated in India. Phylogenetic testing has shown this B.1.617.2 variant to be associated with several clusters in Singapore,” MOH said.

In a statement on Saturday, MOH flagged the challenge of the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19 prevalent in South Asia, saying the strain is not just a Singapore problem but a global one, as highlighted by the World Health Organisation.

The number of imported cases from South Asia over the past 28 days was 271, MOH said then.

MOH previously reported a total of 131 cases of the India variants – B.1.617 and B.1.617.1-3 – detected in Singapore as of 3 May.

In its latest report based on submissions from Singapore's researchers on 28 April, Gisaid, the world's largest database of novel coronavirus genome sequences, reported a total of 156 cases of the India variants in Singapore over the past four weeks.

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