India on Friday prohibited the export of all varieties of respiratory masks in view of the coronavirus scare.
The list of banned items includes clothing and N95 breathing masks that fit close to the face and are made to filter out tiny particles from the air.
India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry in a notification titled “Amendment in export policy of personal protection equipment/ Masks” stated: “Exports of all varieties of personal protection equipment including clothing and masks used to protect the wearer from air bone particles and/or any other respiratory masks or any other personal protective clothing including coveralls (Class2/3/4) and N95 masks, is prohibited with immediate effect till further orders.”
Sources told Sputnik, the government decision came hours after some Chinese airports were desperately asking for masks and around 60,000 were sent from India on Friday.
As the demand for N95 masks has been increasing in the light of coronavirus outbreak, Chinese manufacturers have started looking for overseas suppliers. But Indian suppliers and exporters of N95 masks are said to have run out of stocks.
India is a major importer of surgical masks and the domestic market, which was worth $58 million in 2017, is projected to touch $95 million by 2025, according to Allied Market Research.
First detected in December in a live wild animal market in Wuhan in Hubei province, the Coronavirus is spreading globally. The World Health Organization has declared a public health emergency over the outbreak which has so far spread to at least 18 countries.