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India diplomat cancels in-person G-7 meetings over possible coronavirus exposure

India diplomat cancels in-person G-7 meetings over possible coronavirus exposure
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India's top diplomat has canceled in-person meetings at the Group of Seven (G-7) meeting in London over possible exposure to COVID-19.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Twitter that he was made aware of “exposure to possible COVID positive case.”

“As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode. That will be the case with the G7 Meeting today as well,” Jaishankar tweeted.

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A British official confirmed two positive tests to Reuters and said the entire Indian delegation is self-isolating.

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenSunday shows preview: Biden foreign policy in focus as Dem tensions boil up back home Concerns grow over China's Taiwan plans Biden should remind Erdogan of NATO's basic tenets and values MORE met with Jaishankar on Tuesday, according to a readout posted by the State Department.

The diplomats “reviewed recent efforts in the fight against COVID-19, including U.S. assistance to India, and expressed appreciation for each country’s support throughout the pandemic. The Secretary reaffirmed India’s important role when it comes to the climate crisis and as a leading partner in the Indo-Pacific.”

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State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement to The Hill “the U.S. delegation was advised, including by the UK'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."

“We have no reason to believe any of our delegation is at risk,” Price said.

A senior British diplomat told The Hill, “We deeply regret that Foreign Minister Dr Jaishankar will be unable to attend the meeting today in person and will now attend virtually, but this is exactly why we have put in place strict Covid protocols and daily testing.”  

Britain is hosting a meeting of G-7 countries this week, the first such in-person meeting since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

India is not a member of G-7 but was invited to attend this week’s meeting along with other nonmembers Australia, South Africa, the South Korea and Brunei. 

The news comes as India deals with a surge of COVID-19 cases, facing days of record-breaking numbers.

India on Tuesday became the second country to report 20 million cumulative COVID-19 cases, though exports think the number is likely to be much higher.