India’s foreign minister out of G-7 meeting over COVID risk

India’s foreign minister has pulled out of in-person meetings at a Group of Seven gathering in London because of possible exposure to the coronavirus

Diplomats from the G-7 group of wealthy nations are holding their first face-to-face gathering in two years, with social distancing and other measures in place to curb the spread of the virus.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted that he was “made aware yesterday evening of exposure to possible Covid positive cases. As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode.”

Britain’s Foreign Office, which organized the meeting, did not immediately confirm whether any delegates had tested positive.

Delegates attending the event at Lancaster House in London have been observing social distancing and are separated by transparent screens in meetings, and are tested daily for the virus.

The guest nations’ delegations didn’t attend the conference on Tuesday, though Jaishankar has held meetings in London with officials including British Home Secretary Priti Patel and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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

Britain’s Foreign Office said it regretted that Jaishankar couldn’t attend the meeting in person, “but this is exactly why we have put in place strict COVID protocols and daily testing.”

India is experiencing a vast outbreak of COVID-19, with 382,315 new confirmed cases and 3,780 reported deaths in the last 24 hours, in what is widely believed to be an undercount.

The U.K., which holds the G-7 presidency this year, is due to host the group’s leaders at a summit in Cornwall, southwest England, in June.

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