Corona affects G7 meeting in London | Free press

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London (AP) – The corona pandemic impacted the conclusion of the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting in London.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar canceled his personal attendance at the conference at short notice due to suspected cases in his delegation, although he had already traveled a long way to London. “For reasons of caution and to consider others, I have decided to make my appointments virtual,” he wrote on Twitter.

According to British media, the entire Indian delegation went into self-isolation over two suspected corona cases. The country is currently considered the epicenter of the pandemic and is struggling with a dramatic spread of the virus.

India is not a member of the G7, in which economically strong Western democracies have come together. The British hosts invited the Asian country to the London talks, as well as South Korea, Australia and South Africa. For Germany, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is participating, who originally planned a meeting with Jaishankar for Wednesday afternoon. It was initially unclear whether it would take place virtually or not at all.

The British Foreign Office said it was very unfortunate that Jaishankar was unable to attend the G7 meetings in person. “But that’s why we’ve put in place strict Covid rules and daily tests,” said a senior diplomat.

All delegation participants are required to perform an antigen test daily during the conference. A PCR test was also required upon arrival. During the deliberations, the ministers are separated from each other by plexiglass panels.

Maas praised the tough measures that could also serve as a model for the G7 summit in Cornwall from 11-13 June with US President Joe Biden and Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Our colleagues from England do this very consistently, with tests every day, with strict hygiene rules so that you can sit in a plexiglass box while eating,” says Maas. “It’s not fun, but it’s still better than sitting in front of the screen.”

British media pointed out that Home Secretary Priti Patel met with Jaishankar on Tuesday. The minister is apparently not isolated in himself. British government circles have indicated that Public Health England sees no danger.

In India, corona cases have been dramatically increasing for weeks. Hospitals have been without medical oxygen for nearly two weeks and, like crematoriums, are overloaded. More than 300,000 new infections have been registered in the past few days. A significantly higher number of unreported cases is assumed.

The G7 meeting should focus, among other things, on delivering vaccines to poorer countries. Maas argued for faster distribution. The speed of deliveries as part of the international Covax initiative must again be significantly increased, the SPD politician said. “We want to continue this initiative, we want to get even faster, we want to deliver even more vaccine to the world.”

This is also intended to counter the “vaccine diplomacy” of China and Russia. According to official figures, China has shipped more than 100 million doses of vaccine abroad. About 80 countries and three international organizations are supported by China. It is unclear what is given for free and what is delivered abroad cheaply or at competitive prices. According to information from Moscow, the Sputnik V vaccine developed by Russian researchers is now approved in more than 60 countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) called on the G7 to export the vaccine instead of withholding it for a booster. Britain has ordered enough vaccine to vaccinate the population three times, but has not yet delivered a dose to another country.

According to Maas, the G7 countries the US, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada jointly fund three-quarters of the Covax initiative. Two billion doses of vaccine should be available through Covax by the end of the year. At the beginning of May, the WHO umbrella vaccination program had distributed just 53 million doses of corona vaccine across more than 120 countries.

Minister of Development Cooperation Gerd Müller (CSU) called for a ‘pact against hunger’ to deal with the consequences of the corona pandemic. “Worldwide, 300 million people have lost their jobs. Moreover, there is hunger because supply chains have collapsed, ”said the CSU politician. “130 million people have fallen back into hunger and extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. This endangers the stability of entire regions. ‘