Monday 6 April 2020 3:14 AM UTC
New Delhi April 6: The government is restricting the export of most diagnostic testing kits, as coronavirus cases topped 3,350 on Sunday despite a three-week nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the respiratory disease.
The government, which in recent weeks already banned the export of certain drugs, along with ventilators, masks and other protective gear needed by both patients and medical staff, issued the latest directive on Saturday.
The move comes even as US President Donald Trump urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a phone call on Saturday, to release supplies of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which is being tested as a possible treatment for patients with COVID-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“The two leaders agreed to remain in touch on the issue of global supply chains for critical pharmaceuticals and medical supplies and to ensure they continue to function as smoothly as possible during the global health crisis,” White House spokesman Judd Deere, said in a tweet on Saturday.
In a briefing note on the conversation, India said the two leaders “agreed to deploy the full strength of the India – US partnership to resolutely and effectively combat COVID-19.”
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Asia, home to roughly 1.9 billion people, climbed close to 7,000 on Sunday, even as the death toll from the respiratory disease in the Indian subcontinent rose to 143.
While the figures are relatively low in comparison with the United States, China, Italy and Spain, health experts fear that the spread of the pandemic in South Asia would overwhelm already weak public health systems in the region.
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