British PM Boris Johnson not to visit India in view of pandemic

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons on 9 February it was also important whether "a variant of concern is the dominant variant", adding the list was kept "under review".

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled a trip to India.

PHE has said it has identified 77 cases of the variant inBritain. Samples are being analysed for any "concerning characteristics", he said.

But the government says its travel bans are more about the transmission of variants of concern and a country's ability to monitor them.

The so-called India variant is known as a double mutant as it has two new significant mutations in the spike protein of the virus that help it infect cells and evade the immune system.

"India is a country I know well and love", Hancock told members of Parliament. "While decision was quite rightly taken not to physically travel due to the rise in Covid-19 cases throughout the Subcontinent, I hope a productive conversation can still be had around easing trade barriers and ensuring prosperity for both nations".

Infections in India are now surging as the country endures a second wave of the virus. The South Asian country had generally fared well in keeping the infection rates down, until recently.

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Biden and Suga on Friday are expected to announce steps through the Quad framework to help India produce COVID-19 vaccines. Japan long has moved cautiously on steps that might worsen relations with China, though Suga has been more outspoken.

The Health Ministry also reported 1,619 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, pushing the toll over 178,769.

The India-UK Partnership in Climate Action, clean energy and health care is geared for mutual benefit and a better world, it added. How Worried Should We Be?

Johnson was due to visit India for four days for talks with the government, but most meetings will now occur on Monday, April 26, Downing Street said, per BBC News.

Carriers including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., Air India and India's Vistara now operate services between cities in India and the United Kingdom.

The variant of coronavirus first identified in India is likely to become a "variant of concern", which could potentially lead to the country being put on the red list, according to Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London.

Johnson said it was "only sensible" to postpone the trip, "given what's happened in India, the shape of the pandemic there".

Prime Minister Modi is invited to the G7 Summit in Cornwall in June, with India among the guest countries. However, the two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-U.K. relationship.

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