India on Thursday received 6,50,000 coronavirus testing kits from China even as it continued its global hunt to buy medical equipment from a number of countries including the US, the UK, South Korea, France and Germany, official sources said.
They said a large consignment of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits is expected to arrive in India shortly as the Ministry of External Affairs has ramped up efforts to procure vital medical supplies from other countries.
The testing kits from China came from three suppliers.
The sources said 300,000 rapid antibody testing kits came from Guangzhou Wondfo, 250,000 kits were procured from Zhuhai Livzon, and 100,000 RNA extraction kits came from MGI Shenzhen.
Asked about the quality of the equipment procured from China, the sources said adequate care has been taken to source the equipment from companies that fulfill international standards for exports.
In the wake of adverse reports about the quality of Chinese medical equipment, Spokesperson in the Chinese embassy Ji Rong said China attaches great importance to the export of medical products and that steps have taken to ensure their quality.
"Some countries including India raised their purchasing demands through diplomatic channels, and we recommend qualified companies. We hope that foreign buyers can choose products certified by Chinese regulatory authorities and with production qualifications when importing relevant products," Ji said.
She said the Chinese authorities introduced stricter regulatory measures, requiring exporters to declare that their supplies have obtained the registration certificate for the medical devices from the State Food and Drug Administration and meet the quality standards of the importing country.
India has been reeling under severe shortage of PPEs and testing kits in view of rising cases of the coronavirus. According to Health Ministry data, 12,380 people were infected by the virus and 414 lost their lives.
On Tuesday, Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri told reporters in Beijing that India has placed orders to procure 15 million personal protection gear from China for medical personnel treating COVID-19 patients.
As demand for Chinese medical supplies scaled up due to the spread of the virus in several parts of world, China on Wednesday asked all the countries to import these items through reputed Chinese firms cleared by the government and vowed to punish those involved in counterfeit behaviour.
The Ministry of External Affairs has been at the forefront of the government's efforts to procure vital medical supplies from other countries.
Sources said India is also also looking at procuring medical equipment including testing kits from South Korea, the UK, the US, France, Japan, Malaysia and Germany.
Indian missions in these countries have been tasked with immediately identifying possible areas of cooperation and engage with relevant authorities for procurement of medical equipment and technology.
The need for looking at best practices, innovations, scientific breakthroughs and medical equipment to fight the pandemic was highlighted extensively by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a video conference he held with heads of 130 Indian missions few weeks ago.
India is specifically looking at South Korea's approach of widespread testing and significant use of digital tracking of suspected cases to contain the pandemic.
The South Korean model of 'trace, test and treat strategy' has received global recognition. Unlike majority of the countries dealing with the pandemic, South Korea has not resorted to any lockdown and allowed business and economic activities to go on as usual.