China has dispatched 6.5 lakh coronavirus medical kits to India to help in quickly identifying and isolating COVID-19 patients, India’s ambassador to China confirmed on Thursday.
The shipment, part of a total order of around 20 lakh kits to be delivered over 15 days, includes Rapid Antibody Test kits— a blood-based test that is more accurate and allows for quicker detection of the novel coronavirus.
“A total of 650,000 kits, including Rapid Antibody Tests and RNA Extraction Kits have been dispatched early today from Guangzhou Airport to India,” Vikram Misri, the Indian ambassador to China, tweeted on Thursday.
#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
Faced with a massive surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, the government is scrambling to ensure an adequate supply of testing kits and medical equipment, such as protective clothing for doctors (PPE) and ventilators for patients with advanced respiratory problems.
China, where the pandemic originated in December last year, has become the primary supplier for medical goods, particularly PPE (personal protection equipment) kits and ventilators, with several countries, including the United States, placing orders.
The virus infected over 80,000 people in China and killed 3,346. In the US, which has emerged as the new epicentre, over six lakh cases have been reported and nearly 31,000 deaths are linked to the virus.
In India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended the national lockdown till May 3, over 12,380 cases have been reported, including 414 deaths.
Two major consignments of medical kits have already been sent to India, according to a news agency, as the government prepares to step up COVID-19 testing with special focus on 170 district-level coronavirus hotspots announced Wednesday.
Meanwhile, China has already supplied 50,000 PPE kits to Assam; these arrived Wednesday morning via a Blue Dart cargo flight that flew directly from Guangzhou to Guwahati.
“Indian government, as well as many countries across the world, are procuring PPE kits from China. We are the first state government to import the kits directly from China,” Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
Earlier this week, Misri confirmed India had ordered 15 lakh PPE kits from China, to be distributed among doctors and healthcare workers on the frontlines of India’s war against the highly infectious novel coronavirus.
This was before China donated 1.7 lakh PPE kits that took the total number of protective kits available in the country to 2.94, according to the Union Health Ministry.
Orders for PPE kits (including N-95 face masks) have also been placed with a Singapore-based platform, the ministry said around 10 days ago.