Sunday, 14 August, 2022
HomeHealthGovt caps COVID-19 tests at Rs 4,500, urges labs to conduct them...

Govt caps COVID-19 tests at Rs 4,500, urges labs to conduct them for free

Only NABL-accredited labs will conduct the test for coronavirus. Each will be given a registration number, which they would have to display prominently.

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New Delhi: After allowing private laboratories to conduct coronavirus tests last week, the government has now set a price cap of Rs 4,500 for them.

The cost includes Rs 1,500 for the screening tests and Rs 3,000 for the confirmatory test, according to guidelines published by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and notified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Saturday.

Considering this a time of national emergency, the government has urged the laboratories to conduct the test for free or at subsidised prices.

India’s COVID-19 confirmed cases count increased by 60 Saturday, with the total number going up to 315.

Also read: Treat health workers who die handling COVID-19 cases as ‘armed force martyrs’: Pvt hospitals

What the guidelines state

According to the guidelines, COVID-19 tests can only be conducted only after being prescribed by a qualified doctor, and under the ICMR’s current testing protocols.

Only those laboratories accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) were approved to conduct the real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for testing the virus. PCR is a process where DNA is replicated so that it can be amplified and studied in detail.

Each laboratory will be given a registration number, which it would have to prominently display when advertising for the test, the guidelines said.

It is expected that about 60 laboratories will now be able to conduct the tests. Earlier, 122 government laboratories were conducting COVID-19 testing, but were only able to use 10 per cent of their capacity.

Private laboratories can collect samples from people’s homes, in order to avoid contact with others during travel. They also have to report the results and contact details of the cases to the ICMR, the apex body for biomedical research in the country.

The guidelines state that all positive samples should be shipped to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, under biosafety precautions, and negative samples should be destroyed within a week. “No sample should be shared with any other organisation for any purpose,” the guidelines state.

Failure to comply with the guidelines could lead to legal action, the ICMR has warned.

Also read: Leh cab driver, who tested ‘negative’ for COVID-19 twice, tests positive after third test


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