Boris Johnson has cancelled his visit to Delhi next week, as the coronavirus crisis worsens in India and concerns grow over a new variant there.
The prime minister’s already-curtailed trip was scrapped altogether on Monday, with plans for him to instead speak to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi later in the month.
Downing Street issued a joint statement from the British and Indian governments.
“In the light of the current coronavirus situation, prime minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week,” the statement said.
“Instead, prime ministers Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India.
“They will remain in regular contact beyond this, and look forward to meeting in person later this year.”
This comes after top UK scientists warned Johnson against visiting.
Cases of an Indian variant, which has a “double mutation”, are thought to be rising rapidly in the UK, according to scientists.
Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, told Good Morning Britain: “My assumption from everything I’ve seen is that it will become a variant of concern. When it becomes a variant of concern, I’d be quite surprised if India wasn’t on the red list.”
“My assumption from everything I’ve seen is that it will become a variant of concern.
“When it becomes a variant of concern, I’d be quite surprised if India wasn’t on the red list.”
Dr Susan Hopkins of Public Health England said yesterday that they were investigating the strain but did not yet know if it had increased transmissibility, severity or vaccine evasion.