Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi Photograph:( Reuters )
Johnson had already postponed the trip once from January, when COVID-19 infections were high in Britain
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his delayed visit to India next week, his office said on Monday. This was to be his first major bilateral foreign visit since taking power in 2019.
Johnson had already postponed the trip once from January when COVID-19 infections were high in Britain. Infections in India are currently surging as the country endures a second wave of the virus.
"In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week," a joint statement from the British and Indian governments said.
"Instead, Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India."
Relations with India are seen as a key component of both Britain's post-Brexit ambitions to reinvigorate trade with countries outside the European Union, and a diplomatic push to gain more influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Britain has invited India to attend the G7 summit it is hosting in June.
Public Health England (PHE) has said that 77 cases of the so-called 'double mutant Indian variant have been detected in the UK since last month and that it has now been classed as a Variant Under Investigation (VUI).
The variant officially named B.1.617 is believed to be almost certainly playing a part in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India and a major spike in infection rates.
(With input from agencies)