00:48 GMT13 June 2021
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    On 18 May, Delhi Chief Arvind Kejriwal said a "new strain" of the deadly coronavirus had been detected in Singapore. In a Twitter post, the 52-year-old Indian politician and head of the Delhi-governing Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had claimed that this virus mutation from Singapore could cause a third wave in India.

    Setting the record straight, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday said that "Singapore has no new variant", advising politicians like Kejriwal to "stick to the facts".

    India was hit hard by the second wave of the pandemic in mid-April after which the nation began reporting over 300,000 daily cases accompanied by over 4,000 deaths. Owing to India's worrisome circumstances, several countries including Australia, the UK, and the US have put flights to and from India on hold.

    In a request to the government, Kejriwal, who has drawn major criticism in recent days over his alleged mismanagement of COVID resources in the national capital, India's most infected city, had appealed that all flights coming to India from Singapore and vice versa must be stopped.

    Replying to Kejriwal, the Singapore High Commission in India released a statement, saying "there is no truth in the assertion that there is a new virus strain in Singapore".

    "Phylogenetic testing has shown that the B.1.617.2 variant is the prevalent strain in many of the COVID cases, including in children, in recent weeks in Singapore", the Singapore High Commission tweeted.

    Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar also snapped at Kejriwal, stating that the "Delhi chief does not speak for India" and expressing gratitude to Singapore for rushing in COVID relief supplies to India in its time of need. 

    "However, irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships. So, let me clarify- Delhi CM does not speak for India", Jaishankar tweeted. 

    ​​The "Indian variant" of coronavirus called B.1.617.2 is a double mutant strain of the virus that has emerged to be more contagious than the previous version.

    British health experts have expressed fear that this COVID variant, which was first detected in India in 2020, could be resistant to vaccines as well.

    After the Singaporean authorities recently reported that COVID had begun to spread rapidly among children, the country suspended all schools. Singapore's Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, citing a conversation he had with the ministry's Director of Medical Services Kenneth Mak, confirmed to the media there that the B.1.617 strain "appears to affect children more".

    Singapore has a population of 5.7 million people and the country has done rather well in tackling the COVID outbreak. So far, Singapore has reported more than 61,000 cases and 31 deaths.

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