China on Tuesday said it was “deeply concerned” over the decision by the Indian Council of Medical Research not to use the Covid-19 rapid testing kits supplied by Beijing due to their evaluation results, PTI reported. ICMR had on Monday asked states and Union Territories to return to the Centre the test kits bought from Chinese companies Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics, due to “wide variations” in their performance.

“We are deeply concerned with the evaluation results and the decision made by the Indian Council of Medical Research,” Chinese Embassy Spokesperson Ji Rong said. “China attaches great importance to the quality of exported medical products.”

She also said that it was “unfair and irresponsible” for “certain individuals” to deem Chinese kits as “faulty”, and look at the matter in a prejudiced manner. However, Ji did not clarify which individuals she was referring to.

Ji said the Chinese embassy has maintained close contact with ICMR and the two firms to determine the problem. “The COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits produced by these two Chinese companies have been exported to and well recognised in many countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America,” Ji said.

The spokesperson added that strict regulations govern the storage, transportation and use of the test kits, and if handled by non-professionals in contravention of product specifications, may give variations in results. The spokesperson hoped that India would respect “China’s goodwill and sincerity, strengthen communication timely with relevant Chinese companies based on facts, and resolve it reasonably and properly.”

Ji said China will continue to back India’s efforts to combat Covid-19 by strengthening medical cooperation.

Some states like Rajasthan and West Bengal had last week complained that the kits were of poor quality, following which ICMR asked all states and Union Territories not to use them for two days. It later said the kits will be returned.

Separately, the government issued a press statement about the controversy. “It needs to be stressed that ICMR has not made any payment whatsoever in respect of these supplies,” it said. “Because of the due process followed [not going for procurement with 100% advance amount], government of India does not stand to lose a single rupee.” The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday said India has not paid the Chinese firms who provided faulty kits.

India has as of Tuesday morning reported 29,435 cases of Covid-19, including 934 deaths, according to the health ministry.

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