Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancels India visit in wake of Covid-19 situation in the UK

Boris Johnson was to take part in India’s Republic Day celebration as the chief guest on January 26, 2021. He would have become the second UK PM to attend the event since John Major in 1993.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancels India visit in wake of Covid-19 situation in the UK
Twitter: @BorisJohnson

As the United Kingdom has gone into a third national lockdown, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his visit to India later this month. According to a leading news agency, Johnson cancelled the trip saying it is important for him to stay in the UK so that he can focus on the domestic pandemic response.

According to a spokeswoman at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Johnson called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing his regret that he will not be able to visit India this month.

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. Had things gone according to plan, Johnson would have become the second UK Prime Minister to attend the event since former PM John Major in 1993.

Earlier, Johnson has imposed a new stay-at-home lockdown until at least mid-February following the continuing spike in the number of new Covid-19 cases – the country registered over 50,000 daily infections for seven consecutive days – as the race between the vaccine and the virus entered a new phase.

Addressing the country in a televised address from Downing Street on Monday night, Johnson said that the variant has been spreading at an “alarming rate”, which makes another lockdown imperative.

The restrictions with the main message to ‘stay at home’ will last from early Wednesday for six weeks, he said, adding that they include the closure of schools, not venturing out of homes unless for essential reasons and working from home.

A grim-faced Johnson said: “(We) now have a new variant of the virus. It has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading. Our scientists have confirmed this new variant is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible”.

“That number is 40 per cent higher than the first peak in April. On 29 December 2020, more than 80,000 people tested positive for Covid across the UK – a new record. The number of deaths is up by 20 per cent over the last week and will sadly rise further.

“With most of the country already under extreme measures, it is clear that we need to do more, together, to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out. In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant. That means the Government is once again instructing you to stay at home”, he added.

This is the third nation-wide lockdown since March 2020. It was re-imposed in November, when cases rose after a dip over the summer months. The overall number of deaths in the UK is expected to reach the grim figure of 100,000 by the end of January or early February 2021.

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