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India FM Jaishankar won't physically attend G7 due to COVID-19 risk

Homeless and migrant laborers affected by the COVID-19 lockdown queue up to receive free cooked food distributed by Sikh volunteers in New Delhi, India, on May 18, 2021. Photo by Abhishek/UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- India's top diplomat said Wednesday he's possibly been exposed to COVID-19 and will not physically attend the Group of 7 summit meetings in London, in the latest turn linked to a significant surge in cases in the South Asian nation.

Foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who'd only just arrived in London when he received the news that he may have been exposed, said he will hold meetings remotely.

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Jaishankar is scheduled to meet with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday. The two were originally supposed to meet at Chevening in Kent.

"Was made aware [Tuesday] evening of exposure to possible COVID positive cases," Jaishankar tweeted Wednesday.

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"As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode. That will be the case with the G7 meeting today as well."

The G7 summit in London is the first in-person gathering of the world's top diplomats since the start of the pandemic last year. Health officials have set up daily coronavirus testing that can accommodate as many as 50 people per hour and physical distancing measures are in place.

India has seen its greatest surge in cases over the past month. It surpassed 20 million total cases earlier this week, which is second only to the United States, and is struggling to maintain measures like oxygen at hospitals and COVID-19 vaccines.

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The United States this week imposed a ban on travelers from India, except U.S. citizens and certain others who are exempt.

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