Singapore rejects Delhi chief’s claims on new variant of Covid-19
People walk during their lunch break in the Raffles Place financial district in Singapore on May 5, 2021.
Facebook Facebook logo Register on Facebook to connect with Roslan Rahman AFP | Getty Images
SINGAPORE – Singapore ordered Facebook, Twitter and a local editor to correct what it says is a circulating misrepresentation that involves a new variant of the coronavirus originating in the city-state and is likely to spread to India.
Under a law to prevent the spread of online lies – officially named POFMA, or Protection from Lies and Online Manipulation Act – Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung has asked the two social media giants and SPH magazines to issue a correction notice to their users in Singapore. SPH Magazines has a popular forum called HardwareZone.
“There is no new ‘Singaporean’ variant of Covid-19. Nor is there any evidence of a variant of Covid-19 that is ‘extremely dangerous to children’,” the official said. Singapore Ministry of Health.
“The prevalent strain in many of the Covid-19 cases detected in Singapore in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originates from India,” he added. “The existence and spread of the B.1.617.2 variant in India predates the detection of the variant in Singapore, and this was publicly known and reported by various media sources as of May 5, 2021.”
the Covid variant B.1.617 was first detected in India last year. The World Health Organization recently called B.1.617 a “variant of concern,” indicating that it has become a threat to global health.
Singapore’s move came after unfounded comments by an Indian politician this week sparked a diplomatic incident between the two countries.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Tuesday that a new variant of the coronavirus in Singapore would be extremely dangerous for children and could lead to a third wave in India. He provided no evidence to support his claims.
Kejriwal has been publicly reprimanded by the foreign ministers of both countries.
“Politicians should stick to the facts! There is no such thing as a ‘Singapore variant’,” Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in a tweet in response to Kejriwal’s claim.
Singapore’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it regretted Kejriwal’s “unsubstantiated claims”.
“The Foreign Ministry is disappointed that a prominent political figure failed to establish the facts before making such statements. The Foreign Ministry met this morning with Indian High Commissioner P Kumaran for him express your concerns “. the foreign ministry said.
Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said the two countries were “strong partners” in the fight against the pandemic.
“However, irresponsible comments from those who should be better informed can hurt long-standing partnerships. So let me clarify – Delhi CM does not speak for India.” he said on twitter. Jaishankar was previously India’s High Commissioner to Singapore.
Indian Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri responded to Kejriwal’s comments on Twitter, and pointed out that international flights to India have been suspended since March 2020.
He also pointed out that India and Singapore do not have an air bubble and that New Delhi only offers repatriation flights from the city-state to bring back stranded Indians.
“Still, we have our eyes on the situation. Every precaution is being taken,” Puri said, according to a CNBC translation of his words into Hindi.
Singapore recently saw a spike in locally transmitted cases, which prompted the government to again intensify social restrictions.
While a number of children in the city-state were recently infected with Covid-19, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Sunday that none of them were seriously ill but the situation was still worrying, according to the Straits Times.
Yet Singapore announced on Tuesday that it would allow children aged 12 to 15 to be vaccinated.
Singapore has so far reported more than 61,600 cases and 31 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
India is the second most infected country in the world behind the United States and is facing a devastating second wave. India has so far reported over 25 million cases and over 287,000 deaths, but experts suggest the numbers have been severely underestimated.
Delhi was one of the worst affected regions in the country where hospitals have faced shortages of hospital beds, oxygen supplies and drugs to treat patients with Covid-19.