The government on Saturday imposed restrictions on the export of diagnostic kits with immediate effect as the number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 2,902. Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has killed 68 people in the country so far.

“The export of diagnostic kits [diagnostic or laboratory reagents on a backing, preparation diagnostic or laboratory reagents] is restricted with immediate effect,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in a notification.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the export of diagnostic kits was allowed without any restrictions. Putting the kits under the restricted category would mean that an exporter will now require a licence from the government for outbound shipments.

India has approved the sale of 18 diagnostic kits made by private companies for coronavirus testing, a top official had confirmed to These include three kits which have been evaluated by the National Institute of Virology in Pune, and 15 kits which have obtained fast-track approvals based on licences and certificates obtained in other countries.

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According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, 182 labs are in place for coronavirus testing in India. Of these, 130 are government and 52 private. On Friday, the top medical body said that a total of 66,000 samples have been tested.

Earlier this week, ICMR had issued an advisory for the use of antibody tests – using throat or nasal swabs – in areas emerging as coronavirus hotspots for faster diagnosis. The Centre has so far identified 20 Covid-19 hotspots and 22 potential ones.

Last month, the World Health Organisation had urged all countries to ramp up their coronavirus testing and said that the best way to contain the disease is to identify people with infections and rapidly isolate them.