Washington: United States is "very closely" tracking the course of the COVID-19 outbreak in India, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price has said.
The statement from Price comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday and discussed US-India cooperation on climate change, COVID-19, and other global challenges and pledged to remain in close contact on these and other issues of mutual concern. "There are protocols in place, requiring testing for international travel. What is true is that we are tracking the course of the COVID outbreak in India very closely as I mentioned before, Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Jaishankar did discuss it yesterday," Price said in a statement on Tuesday.
"We are committed to doing what we can both at the present. And going forward, to see to it that this virus is brought under control and I spoke again of our engagement with the who are funding to COVAX, the Quad arrangement that of course implicates. What we're seeing in India," he added.
Price further said that Secretary Blinken consistently makes the point that as long as the virus is out of control and is uncontained anywhere around the world, it continues to present a risk to the American people.
On the COVID-19 vaccine, Price said, "Our priority is ensuring the distribution of a safe and effective vaccine to millions of Americans to all Americans who are able to take advantage of it. But we also know that we need to continue to demonstrate that leadership."
"When it comes to countries beyond our borders and that's precisely what we've done, as I mentioned before, we've re-engaged. The who we've committed USD 2 billion to Kovacs another USD 2 billion over time, we've spoken to our partnership with Canada and Mexico," he added.
Price further stated that it is not only in US' interest to ensure that the American people are vaccinated, the "only other point I would make is that the rest of the world also has an interest in seeing to it that the American people are vaccinated and that the virus is brought under control".
"US has more deaths than any other country around the world. More than 550,000 at this point 10s of millions of cases. So, again, as long as the virus is uncontrolled anywhere, it is a threat to people everywhere. That is true in the United States. That is true in countries around the world. And it's precisely why we are taking this, this approach," he said.
US' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already advised its citizens to avoid travelling to India amid a massive surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
In a statement, the CDC on Monday said: "Because of the current situation in India even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to India. If you must travel to India, get fully vaccinated before travel. All travellers should wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands."
The COVID-19 situation in India has been deteriorating amid the second wave of coronavirus infections. For the past four days, the country has been reporting in excess of two lakh coronavirus infections and over 1,000 related deaths on a daily basis.