No foreign head of state will attend Republic Day celebrations as chief guest due to Covid: Centre
New Delhi/IBNS: No foreign dignitary will attend this year's Republic Day's celebration as the chief guest due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.
"Due to the global COVID-19 situation, it has been decided that this year there will not be any foreign head of state or government as the chief guest for our Republic Day event," MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Earlier British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in the national capital.
However, owing to a massive spike in the number of infections and the outbreak of the new variant of Covid-19 in the UK, Johnson had to cancel his plans to visit India for the Republic Day celebrations of the Asian country.
Johnson in a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Jan 5 informed his decision to cancel his upcoming visit to India amid rising Covid cases in his country.
"In light of the national lockdown announced last night, and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the Prime Minister said that it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus," a statement issued by the British PM office had informed.
In fact, the scale of the R-Day parade in the iconic Rajpath has also been cut down with only 25,000 people attending the ceremonial boulevard.
Only 160 children will attend the function instead of the usual 600. None of them will be under the age of 15, said reports.
Meanwhile, the country is geared up for the massive Covid-19 vaccination drive beginning from Jan 16.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the pan India rollout of COVID-19 vaccination drive on Jan 16 at 10:30 AM via video conferencing.
This will be the world’s largest vaccination program covering the entire length and breadth of the country.
A total of 3006 session sites across all States and UTs will be virtually connected during the launch.