MOH: 'No truth whatsoever' to media reports in India of a 'S'pore variant'

MOH said that there is no “Singapore variant”.

Nyi Nyi Thet | May 18, 2021, 11:47 PM

The Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore has responded to claims made by Chief Minister of India's capital territory, Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal of a "Singapore variant".

In a press release on May 18 night, MOH said there was "no truth whatsoever" to assertions found within two reports, "Coronavirus variant found in Singapore can be India's 3rd wave, extremely dangerous for kids, warns Arvind Kejriwal" by the Hindustan Times (HT) and NDTV's “Stop Singapore Flights: Arvind Kejriwal To Centre Over New Covid Strain”, both published on May 18.

MOH went on to say that there is no “Singapore variant”, and that the strain prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, "which originated in India".

According to MOH, phylogenetic testing has shown this B.1.617.2 variant to be associated with several clusters in Singapore.

Ban on flights with S'pore

Kejriwal has called for a ban on flights with Singapore in his tweet.

According to the HT, Kejriwal had tweeted that a new variant of Covid-19 which is "found in Singapore" was apparently "extremely dangerous" for children and could result in a third wave of infections within India. The B.1.617 variant was first detected in India.

In appealing to the country's central government, Kejriwal said that air services with Singapore should be cancelled with immediate effect, while options for the vaccination of children should be prioritised.

Since April 24, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to India within the last 14 days, including transit, are not allowed entry into or to transit through Singapore.

Netizens respond

Several Indian netizens, including a journalist, had replied to the minister's tweet, pointing out that the B.1.617 strain is the same one first detected in India.

MOH's full statement

Here is the full statement by MOH:

"The Ministry of Health refers to the reports published by Hindustan Times on 18 May 2021 ("Coronavirus variant found in Singapore can be India's 3rd wave, extremely dangerous for kids, warns Arvind Kejriwal") and NDTV on 18 May 2021 (“Stop Singapore Flights: Arvind Kejriwal To Centre Over New Covid Strain”).

There is no truth whatsoever in the assertions found within the reports. There is no “Singapore variant”. The strain that is prevalent in many of the COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated in India. Phylogenetic testing has shown this B.1.617.2 variant to be associated with several clusters in Singapore."

You can read more about what MOH is responding to here:

Image from Arvind Kejriwal and MOH’s Facebook pages.