Supreme Court directs free testing; Private labs looking forward to government aid

Supreme Court directs free testing; Private labs looking forward to government aid

With the Supreme Court directing that private labs should conduct coronavirus tests free of cost, many laboratories expect the government to come up with some supportive schemes as they do not have the wherewithal to offer the tests free of cost.

Soon after the private labs were authorised to coronavirus infection tests in the wake of rising demand in the country, the Supreme Court had on April 8 issued interim orders to the Central government to ensure that tests for COVID-19 in the accredited private laboratories were done free of cost. The cost for the for screening and confirmation test of COVID-19 in private laboratories had been fixed at Rs.4,500 by the government.

The apex court, however, said that the price may not be within the means of a large part of the population and that no person should be deprived of the diagnosis due to the non-payment of the capped amount. The court had also emphasized the role of private hospitals and laboratories in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis. Reimbursing private labs of their expenses would be considered, later on, the court had stated.

While the court directive was in the context that the high costs would be a discouragement to testing the population, failing the purpose of checking the spread of the virus, the private labs now argue that the government should come up with modalities so that they can sustain testing facilities in the wake of the burgeoning demand.

Currently, screening for COVID-19 was underway in 223 laboratories across the country, of which 157 were government laboratories and the rest were managed by private operators.