British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday cancelled a planned trip to India later this month, citing the need to oversee the pandemic response at home, according to Reuters.

“The prime minister spoke to (Indian) Prime Minister Modi this morning, to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

“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.”

Last month, the government had announced Johnson’s intention to visit India as part of efforts to speed up talks on trade, with Britain in search of new bilateral deals after leaving the European Union.

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