Indian Official at G7 Talks in London Self-Isolates Over Covid Exposure Fears

Indian Official at G7 Talks in London Self-Isolates Over Covid Exposure Fears

LONDON — India’s foreign minister, visiting London for a gathering of ministers from the world’s top industrial powers, said on Wednesday that he was self-isolating after coming into contact with people who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the foreign minister, said on Twitter that he had been made aware of a possible exposure to positive coronavirus cases. “As a measure of abundant caution,” he said, he had decided to take part in the events virtually.

The event, held before a summit of leaders from the coterie of nations known as the Group of 7, has been heralded as the first major in-person diplomatic gathering since the pandemic began. Other members of India’s delegation were also self-isolating.

It comes as India is experiencing a devastating surge in coronavirus cases, and the news that the country’s delegation was forced to self-isolate offered a telling reminder that while some nations with robust vaccination campaigns are moving to fully reopen, others remain in the throes of the pandemic.

Foreign ministers from the Group of 7 countries — the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — met in London this week alongside representatives from Australia, Brunei, India, South Africa and South Korea.

The first face-to-face meeting of foreign ministers comes just weeks ahead of the G7 summit, which will be the first in-person meeting of the world leaders in two years.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain has defended the decision to hold the June summit in person. “We have a very important relationship with India and with our G7 partners,” he told reporters, according to the BBC. “As I understand it, what has happened is the individuals concerned are all isolating now.”

The Indian delegation had yet to attend central events being held at Lancaster House in London, but did participate in other meetings, including with Priti Patel, Britain’s home secretary.

It is unclear how many members of the Indian delegation were vaccinated, but many of the officials whom the foreign minister met with have received at least one vaccine dose.

With masking required and social distancing measures in place, public health officials have determined that the risk to those in the meetings is low. People who attended have not been advised to self-isolate.

As part of the coronavirus protocols, daily tests have been required for those in attendance.

Footage of the event at Lancaster House showed officials gathered at a large hall, in a wide circle, separated by clear plastic barriers on Tuesday.

Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement that it deeply regretted that Dr. Jaishankar was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting in person, but added, “This is exactly why we have put in place strict Covid protocols and daily testing.”

Britain’s foreign minister, Dominic Raab, tested negative for the coronavirus on Wednesday, the office said.

A representative for the U.S. State Department, which has been involved in the London meetings, said the delegation had been told that the cautionary measures in place would allow for the activities to continue as planned.

“We have no reason to believe any of our delegation is at risk,” said Ned Price, a State Department spokesman. “We will continue to follow the guidance of public health professionals going forward and abide by the same strict Covid-19 protocols.”

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has been involved in the G7 discussions this week, and met with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Raab on the sidelines of the summit.

Mr. Johnson, who contracted the coronavirus last year, has received a vaccine dose. On the top of the agenda were discussions about cooperation between the two nations on coronavirus relief efforts.

Mr. Blinken also met with Dr. Jaishankar on Monday evening. The two delegations sat socially distanced and masked across from each other, according to reporters traveling with the secretary of state, and later gave brief remarks to the news media.

Dr. Jaishankar was also scheduled to attend a G7 dinner on Tuesday night with Mr. Blinken and other foreign ministers. It is unclear whether he attended.

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