SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (May 18) said that there is “no truth whatsoever” in the assertion in several news reports in India that there is a Singapore variant of the COVID-19 virus.
The claims were reported in articles published by the Hindustan Times and NDTV, both publications from India.
The articles quoted tweets from Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was cited as saying that the new strain is “extremely dangerous for children” and could result in a third wave of infection in India.
MOH said in response on Tuesday that “there is no ‘Singapore variant’”.
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“The strain that is prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B16172 variant, which originated in India,” it said.
“Phylogenetic testing has shown this B16172 variant to be associated with several clusters in Singapore.”
Two COVID-19 sub-variants from India have been detected among imported and community cases in Singapore, including those who have been linked to the Tan Tock Seng and Changi Airport clusters.
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In the media reports in India, Mr Kejriwal was also cited as urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to immediately cancel air services with Singapore and prioritise the vaccination of children.
Mr Kejriwal also made those views known on Twitter, which Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan responded to on Wednesday morning: