COVID-19: The Government of India on August 16, 2021, imposed restrictions on the export of COVID-19 Rapid-Antigen Testing kits amid the warning of a possible third-wave of coronavirus in the country, informed the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) in a notification.

Earlier in May 2021, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggested using Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits across the country for mass screening. The council had also suggested that all government and private healthcare facilities in India should use RAT for screening the presence of COVID-19.

The ICMR had also issued an advisory for COVID-19 home testing with Rapid Antigen testing kits, especially in the rural areas where the availability of RT-PCR testing labs is a challenge.

Restriction on export of COVID-19 Rapid Antigen testing kit: Why?

•On August 4, 2021, the Indian government received data with warning signals showing India’s R-value above 1, which means every COVID-19 infected person is infecting more than one person.

•This rise in R-value could indicate a warning of a possible third wave of COVID-19. The Health Ministry has reported a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across 18 districts, majorly in Kerala (10 districts), Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Maharashtra.

•The restriction on the export of the COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Testing kit will increase the availability of the kits in the country.

How will exporters conduct shipping?

•Exporters will have to apply for a license or get approval from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) for shipping items under the restricted category.

COVID-19: India

•As of August 17, 2021, the Health Ministry reported 3,22,50,679 total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India, of which 3,69,846 are active cases, 3,14,48,754 are cured/discharged/migrated cases and 4,32,079 are death cases.

•India achieves the highest single-day record in administering #COVID19 vaccine doses. The country administered 88.13 lakh vaccine doses in the past 24 hours. India’s vaccination drive has crossed the 55.47 crore mark.

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