NEW DELHI — Restrictions on the export of Covid-19 rapid antigen testing kits have been imposed by the Government of India when there has been a possibility of third-wave across the country, as per experts.

“Amendment in Export Policy of Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Testing – Reg. For details may pls refer to Notification No.18 dated 16.08.2021,” tweeted the Directorate General of foreign trade.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade is the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Government of India, responsible for administering laws regarding foreign trade.

“The export of Covid-19 rapid antigen testing kits has been put under the restricted category with immediate effect,” read the notification from the Directorate General of foreign trade.

Now, exporters have to seek a license or permission from the Directorate General of foreign trade for shipping items under the restricted category. These restrictions will increase the availability of the kits in the country.

Earlier, in May, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination, and promotion of biomedical research, suggested using Rapid Antigen Test kits for mass screening. It also said that the Rapid Antigen Test should be allowed in government and private healthcare facilities across the country in cities, towns, schools, colleges, and community centers.

The Indian Council of Medical Research also issued an advisory for Covid-19 home testing using rapid antigen kits. The spread of coronavirus to rural areas, where RT-PCR testing labs are not available, was the main reason behind this strategy.

“US-FDA-approved Antigen-based Covid-19 Home/Self-tests are exempted from Indian Council of Medical Research validation,” read the advisory.

As per the Central government’s data on Aug. 4, some warning signals showed India’s R number above 1 for the first time from May. An R-value above 1 means every Covid-19 infected person or individual is infecting more than one other person.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said a rise in coronavirus cases is being witnessed in 18 districts, primarily in Kerala (10 districts), Maharashtra, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh.

India reported over 32 million confirmed cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) as of Aug. 12, 2021. The number of people infected with the virus was growing across the south Asian country.

The central government of India has been criticized for not taking action during the second wave in April 2021, with “#ResignModi” trending on social media platforms in late April 2021.

The government’s response was to block this content line to fight misinformation and reduce panic across the country.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra

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