British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his trip to India due to a surge in COVID-19 cases there, Downing Street said on Monday.
The trip was originally meant to take place next week. In recent days, however, India has grabbed world headlines for exponentially rising cases as well as reports of a “double-mutant” coronavirus variant.
“In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week, a joint British-Indian statement said.
“Instead, Prime Ministers [Narendra] Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India.
“They will remain in regular contact beyond this, and look forward to meeting in person later this year.”
The local government in the Indian capital New Delhi announced on Monday a weeklong lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.
“From tonight 10 pm to next Monday 5 am, for six days, there will be a lockdown in Delhi. During this period, all essential services will be available,” Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Monday afternoon.
New Delhi has seen a huge spike in virus cases, with the daily infections reaching more than 25,000 on Sunday.
Kejriwal said that Delhi’s health system has reached its limit. “It is under stress. Harsh measures will have to be taken to prevent a collapse of the health system,” he said, adding: “I don't say that the system has collapsed but it has reached its limits.”
India has so far reported over 15 million coronavirus cases, with more than 178,700 deaths.