Singapore rejected a claim made by New Delhi’s chief minister that a new variant of COVID-19 was discovered in the city-state, saying it was actually the Indian strain hitting the Southeast Asian nation.
Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Tuesday that the so-called “new Singapore variant” is “very harmful to children” and called on the federal government to immediately halt flights with the tiny island nation in order to avoid a third wave of infections.
“There is no truth whatsoever in the assertions found within the reports,” Singapore’s Ministry of Health said in a statement late on Tuesday evening referring to the remarks published by India’s Hindustan Times and NDTV. “There is no ‘Singapore variant.’ The strain that is prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated in India.”
Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan tweeted on Wednesday, “Politicians should stick to facts! There is no ‘Singapore variant’.”
A spokesman from Kejriwal’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar weighed in on the spat on Singapore’s side, saying in a tweet on Wednesday that Kejriwal “does not speak for India and that “irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships”. Balakrishnan responded by saying the focus should be on resolving the situation in their respective countries.
Testing has shown the India strain to be linked with several clusters in Singapore, which last month tightened border controls with the country, including a ban on visitors due to the deteriorating situation there. India, which is battling the world’s worst outbreak of COVID-19, on Wednesday added another 267,334 cases, bringing the total number of infections to more than 25 million.