Though it’s blowing hot, blow cold on the political front, India has decided to take the initiative to help China, as it battles against the deadly coronavirus.

India has lifted the ban on the export of personal protection equipment, including masks.

With this move, critical items like surgical masks, disposable masks, all kinds of gloves except NBR (nitrile butadiene rubber) gloves, which China urgently needs, can be exported by Indian manufacturers quickly to help the Chinese authorities fight the health epidemic.

Notification amended

“The Directorate-General of Foreign Trade, Department of Commerce, Government of India, has lifted the ban on exports of these equipments last night,’’ Uday Bhaskar, Director-General, Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council told  BusinessLine  on Sunday.

The DGFT notification, dated February 8, 2020, has amended the Export Policy of Personal Protection Equipment/masks. The export of these items was banned by an earlier order dated January 31, 2020.

The notification “has been amended to the extent that items such as surgical masks/disposable masks and all gloves except NBR gloves are allowed freely for export,’’ said the DGFT in its order.

“As export promotion body, we at Pharmexcil are coordinating to help China and other affected countries fight the virus. We are talking to industry and other stakeholders in this regard,’’ Uday Bhaksar said.

“All India Drug Control Officers Confederation has also decided to send some protective material to China,’’ said Pharmexcil DG, who is also National Secretary-General of the Confederation.

This move assumes significance given that China and other countries require a large number of personal protection equipment to stem further spread of the virus and ramp up relief measures.

According to agency reports from Beijing, the new coronavirus that emerged in central China towards the end of last year has killed more than 800 people and spread around the world. The latest figures from China show there are nearly 37,200 people infected in the country.

Outside mainland China, more than 350 infections have been reported in nearly 30 other places. There have also been two deaths, one in the Philippines and the other in Hong Kong.

Impact of the outbreak

When asked about the likely impact of the virus outbreak, which also hits exports from China on Indian Pharma industry, he said: “Its too early to say. As of now, the focus is on how to team up and strengthen relief measures and arrest it from further spread.’’

The Indian pharmaceutical industry depends on China for the import of raw materials/APIs to an extent.