New Delhi, January 5: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has terminated his upcoming visit to India due to the COVID-19 crisis in his country, reports said. Johnson was scheduled to be the chief guest at India's Republic Day 2021 event which will be held on January 26. Speculations were rife that the visit could be cancelled as the United Kingdom continues to reel under the sharpest spike in coronavirus cases since the pandemic's onset.
Johnson's suspension of upcoming India visit was confirmed by the UK Government. "In light of the national lockdown announced last night, and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the Prime Minister said that it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus," said an official statement. UK Announces Additional Economic Package of £4.6-Billion For Reviving Business Affected Due to COVID-19 Pandemic.
Johnson was reportedly issued the invite using diplomatic channels by India in November. He was dialed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in first week of December to formally extend the invitation. On December 15, Johnson publicly announced that he would be visiting India, and has also invited PM Modi for the G7 Summit in the UK later next year.
Boris Johnson Cancels Visit to India: ANI
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today cancelled a planned trip to India later this month, citing the need to oversee the pandemic response at home: Reuters
UK PM Boris Johnson was to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26. https://t.co/qLPgfnPMAK
— ANI (@ANI) January 5, 2021
According to reports, Johnson dialled Prime Minister Modi to inform about his decision to suspend the visit to India. He cited the unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases across the UK, which has compelled his government to impose a complete lockdown to reduce the pace of transmission.
Britain, apart from reporting more than 50,000 cases per day over the past few days, is recording one of the highest mortality rates in the world. The country's cumulative fatality count has crossed 350,000.