The government’s move to restrict exports of Covid-19 rapid antigen testing kits was a result of a request by the Health Ministry with a view of being “very cautious”, a senior government official told The Indian Express.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) had on Monday moved these kits to the restricted category of exports. “(It was done) because the Health Ministry wants to be very cautious,” said a government official, who did not wish to be quoted, indicating that the government wanted to ensure adequate supply of rapid testing kits in the event of another spike or wave in Covid-19 infections.
The DGFT fixed the quota of such kits that could be exported in July, August and September at 11.76 crore, with exporters being required to file applications to export them between August 20 and August 30. The Centre, in April 2020, restricted export of all Covid diagnostic kits and reagents, similarly requiring that exporters obtain licenses for any exports of diagnostic kits as Covid-19.
Exports of Covid-19 RT-PCR testing kits, and their components, RNA extraction kits and component elements and viral transport media (VTM) kits are also restricted by DGFT, as part of measures to ensure adequate supplies of essential diagnostic and research tools in the event of another spike in infections. Experts have said a third wave may be inevitable.
The Indian Medical Association had in July warned of a third wave and called for curbs on mass gatherings. Researchers have said that a third wave may start as soon as this month and peak in October.