British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reduced his stay duration during his first official visit to India, starting on April 26. Officials at Downing Street informed that the decision was taken given the Covid-19 situation in India. The country is witnessing a second Covid-19 wave with over one lakh cases reportedly daily.
“We have been in close contact with the Indian government about the PM's upcoming visit in light of the Covid situation in India. As a result of these discussions, the Prime Minister has decided to reduce the length of the visit, due to take place at the end of this month, to a shorter programme in New Delhi," Johnson's spokesman at Downing Street informed.
The spokesperson said that more details on the visit will be revealed shortly. “The visit will include a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Johnson will concentrate on high-level discussions with the Indian government and Indian business leaders,” he said. The Indian trip is an opportunity to finalize a UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership.
The Spokesperson added that the UK Prime Minister’s visit will be Covid secure. “As with all the Prime Minister’s visits, his trip to India will prioritize the safety of those involved. All elements of the visit will be Covid secure,” he said. Johnson is a Covid-19 survivor and was hospitalized for three nights in an ICU at a London hospital last year.
Johnson was looking forward to his first trip to India but the new Covid-19 strain and spike in cases in the UK have put a spanner in the works. Modi had invited the British Prime Minister to be the Republic Day chief guest during a telephonic conversation on November 27, 2020. Johnson was delighted and accepted Modi’s invitation.