COVID-19 infection of Indian defence minister indicates greater impact among its troops: expert
Published: Jan 11, 2022 12:28 AM
India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh arrives to attend a session at the Parliament House in New Delhi on December 14, 2021. Photo: VCG

India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh arrives to attend a session at the Parliament House in New Delhi on December 14, 2021. Photo: VCG

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms, he tweeted on Monday, days before China and India are reportedly to hold the 14th round of military talks scheduled for Wednesday. 

"I have tested positive for Corona today with mild symptoms. I am under home quarantine. I request everyone who have recently come in my contact to isolate themselves and get tested," tweeted the minister on Monday afternoon.

The infection of such a high-level official indicated that the new wave of COVID-19 epidemic has brought huge impact on India's people as well as among the troops, which will weigh on the psychological pressures of soldiers at the border stand-off, as there will be less personnel shifts to avoid virus spread, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Monday.

Singh's infection came merely two days before China and India's 14th round of military talks which are scheduled to start on Wednesday, according to Indian media. 

After the last round of commander-level talks over the issues in the western section of the China-India border failed to reach an agreement, both sides are expected to rejoin the table to engage in yet another round of talks on Wednesday at the Chinese side of the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point. 

According to CNN-News18, India's top government sources said that "60,000 fully armed Indian troops were spending a second winter in the freezing heights of eastern Ladakh." The source added that the situation on the ground is uncertain and "anything can happen."

"The rate of infection in the Indian military will be significant despite their preventive measures, as all levels of military officers are not isolated," said Qian.

However, the infection of Singh will not affect much of the upcoming corps commander talks between the two sides, as China will take effective preventive measures in full swing, according to Qian.

China slammed India for its unreasonable and unrealistic demands at the 13th military talks held on October 10, 2021, accusing India of sparking new incidents along the eastern section of the border. Chinese experts warned of risks of a new conflict, saying that China should not only refuse to give in to India's arrogant demands on the negotiation table but also be prepared to defend against another Indian military aggression.

Delhi has reported a rising positivity rate of 23 percent with 22,751 new COVID-19 cases registered in 24 hours on Sunday, local media NDTV reported. 

The surge, according to media reports, is being driven by the rampaging Omicron variant and the continued prevalence of the Delta variant across the country, the Indian Health Ministry said on Monday. 

On Sunday, the Indian news agency ANI reported that 402 staff members out of the 1,409 employees of Parliament tested positive for COVID-19 right ahead of the Budget Session of the Parliament to be held from Tuesday to Saturday, and several employees of both houses of parliament were put in isolation after they came into contact with their infected colleagues during work.