The much-awaited first batch of Chinese kits arrived in India on Thursday and is expected to expedite the testing of COVID-19 in a country with 1.3 billion inhabitants.
Government sources in New Delhi said that a flight with rapid antibody testing kits (the first lot of 300,000 from Guangzhou Wondfo and 250,000 from Zhuhai Livzon) and RNA extraction kits (100,000 from MGI Shenzhen), left on Thursday morning after Chinese customs cleared them late on Wednesday.
#IndiaFightsCoronavirus A total of 650,000 kits, including Rapid Antibody Tests and RNA Extraction Kits have been despatched early today from Guangzhou Airport to #India | #2019nCoV #StayHomeSaveLives @MEAIndia @HarshShringla @DrSJaishankar— Vikram Misri (@VikramMisri) April 16, 2020
The Indian Embassy in Beijing and Consulate in Guangzhou played a key role in supplying these kits, the sources said.
Another official from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) informed that the kits have already reached India.
“The customs clearance process is underway, once done, kits will be taken to NIMR (National Institute of Malaria Research) and then will be distributed to states for screening in hot spot areas", the official added. The country identified a total 170 districts (25 percent of total districts) as red zones of the infection on Wednesday.
China has tightened regulations on exporting such equipment following criticism from several European countries over the quality of exports.
Earlier this week, India’s Ambassador to China Vikram Misri had said that the Indian government was in the process of, or had already completed, contracts for 15 million personal protective equipment kits, consisting of gowns, masks, gloves, goggles, etc.
“We have a schedule that stretches from deliveries starting 15 April until the end of the month, when half a dozen consignments ordered by different entities in India will be delivered", Misri said while addressing an online conference on Tuesday.
The Chinese delivery was scheduled to arrive on 8 April but due to shortages of cargo flights it was delayed for a week. The delay in deliveries of these kits has, in turn, delayed testing.
According to the ICMR, 258,730 individuals have been tested as of 15 April. The Indian Health Ministry reports a total 12,380 COVID-19 positive cases with 941 new cases in 24 hours.
The death toll in the country has reached to 414, with 37 deaths in last 24 hours.