In London, the Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting was struck by a coronavirus scare on Wednesday. The foreign minister of India and his entire team said they were self-isolating after two delegates tested positive.
The meeting is a precursor to the main G7 summit slated in June this year at a rural English resort. U.S. President Joe Biden as well as other world leaders are set to attend.
The three-day meeting, the first such G7 event in two years is being hosted by Britain. It has been heavily billed as an opportunity to restart face-to-face diplomacy. Furthermore, for the West to show a united front against threats from China and Russia.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Twitter that they were made aware yesterday evening of exposure to possible Covid positive cases.
He said, as a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, he decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode. That will be the case with the G7 Meeting today as well, Jaishankar said.
India is attending the Group of 7 as a guest. It had been due to take part in meetings on Tuesday evening and throughout Wednesday. The nation is currently undergoing the world’s worst surge in COVID-19 cases.
Two Positive Tests
A British official confirmed the Indian delegates tested positive. With that, the entire Indian delegation was self-isolating. In Britain, rules require a 10-day self-isolation period.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked if it had been a mistake to hold the summit in person. He said he thinks it’s very important to try to continue as much business as they can as a government.
The Prime Minister also said he would speak with Jaishankar later by Zoom on Wednesday.
As British foreign minister Dominic Raab arrived at the venue, he was seen greeting and fist-bumping other G7 members.
A senior UK diplomat said they deeply regret that Jaishankar will be unable to attend the meeting today in person. This is exactly why they have put in place strict COVID protocols and daily testing, the diplomat said.
The Indian delegation had not yet reached the main summit venue at Lancaster House. Meetings were scheduled for Wednesday pushed through as planned.
Photos from inside the grand Lancaster House conference venue on Tuesday showed the reality of diplomacy in this pandemic age. The delegates were separated by plastic screens. Additionally, the ministers’ “family photo” was carefully spaced two metres apart.
Though not a G7 member, India was invited by Britain to this week’s summit, along with Australia, South Africa and South Korea.