UK Prime Mnister Boris Johnson cancelled his visit to India, amid the ongoing crisis in the country over the new strain of coronavirus.
Johnson spoke to Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday morning, “to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned,” according to Prime Minister’s office.
“In light of the national lockdown announced last night, and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the Prime Minister said that it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus,” the Downing Street said in a statement.
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However, both the leaders underlined their shared commitment to the bilateral relationship, and to “continuing to build on the close collaboration between our countries – including in response to the pandemic.”
Johnson also said that he hopes to be able to visit India in the first half of 2021, and ahead of the UK’s G7 Summit that Prime Minister Modi is due to attend as a guest.
The latest development came after Johnson announced another national lockdown, the third of its kind since the coronavirus pandemic began in the country early last year.
The lockdown came into force at 12 a.m. on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.
In a televised address on Monday, he urged people across the country to “stay at home” except for permitted reasons, echoing the message back in March 2020.
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Under the new lockdown, people are only allowed to go to work if it’s impossible to work from home, such as construction workers.
Britons will be allowed to go out to shop for necessities including food and medicines, and to exercise, ideally once a day and locally.