Saturday, April 3, 2021

Boris Johnson’s Pune, Mumbai trip in jeopardy

British PM is to visit two cities April end 

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat 
New Delhi, April 2

Maharashtra's alarming Covid-19 situation and high positivist rate of more than 14% has put British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's visit to Pune & Mumbai in jeopardy.

Johnson is slated to visit New Delhi sometime on April 26-27 and as part of his itinerary was contemplating visiting Pune, Mumbai etc.

Johnson is eager to visit Pune which is the world's largest vaccine manufacture facility, Serum Institute of India (SII). SII has been producing Oxford Astrazeneca's vaccine Covishield, which has been exported to many countries from there. British officials are struggling to take a call on Pune visit and in touch with Indian counterparts.

This is the second time the British Prime Minister is contemplating visiting India. He was to be country's Chief Guest during the Republic Day celebrations on January 26. But Britain was hit hard by another Covid wave and lockdown was declared forcing cancellation of his trip.

The April trip was finalised when the situation started improving in the UK and it looked as if the second wave won't hit India. However, Maharashtra is among the worst hit among eight states. As if this was enough, Pune and Mumbai top the list of districts in highest reported cases. A night Curfew has been imposed in Pune from today and the situation continues to be alarming in Mumbai too.

The cases have risen at a rapid speed in Maharashtra from 15000 or so on March 15 and have trebled in less in 17 days. Though the state tops the country in terms of vaccination.

UK as the chair of the G7 grouping has invited India for the meeting of the grouping in June. Indian PM Modi will be traveling to the country for the summit, which could see its first in-person quad meeting as well. Both sides are also working on a trade deal.