The Centre on Thursday exempted imports of Covid-19 test kits, ventilators and face masks from import duty and the health cess, the Finance Ministry announced late on Thursday evening. The two exemptions shall be available upto 30 September 2020. Most of these items attracted a 7.5 per cent basic customs duty. The 5% health cess on the customs duty payable on medical devices was introduced in 2020 to fund expansion of medical infrastructure in the country.
The finance ministry said the decision had been taken considering the immediate requirement of these items in the context of the Covid-19. Thursday’s decision comes as the government and the health sector looks to import more of these devices to supplement domestic production as the disease continues to spread.
Just a few hours earlier, the Indian Council of Medical Research also liberalised its testing guidelines that calls for testing “asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case” between days 5 and day 14 of coming in contact with a Covid-19 patient.