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Published On: Wed, Apr 8th, 2020

Top Court Asks Govt to Make Corona Virus Testing Free in Private Labs Too

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11VIRUS-QNATEST-mobileMasterAt3xNEW DELHI : The government must ensure coronavirus tests are conducted for free in both state-run and private diagnostic labs, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday.
While coronavirus tests are already free at government hospitals, private labs cannot be allowed to charge up to Rs 4,500 for the test in the middle of the ongoing crisis, the top court ruled in response to a Public Interest Litigation or PIL.
The observation from the apex court came on a petition that sought its direction to ensure free COVID-19 testing for all citizens – both in government and private labs.
During the hearing through videoconferencing, Mehta contended that 118 labs in India have a total capacity of conducting 15,000 tests per day, and 47 private labs too had been been roped in.

“The question as to whether the private laboratories carrying free of cost COVID-19 tests are entitled for any reimbursement of expenses incurred shall be considered later on,” the top court added.

When Justice Bhushan insisted on not allowing labs to charge money for corona tests, Mehta said it was a developing situation for the labs and thus difficult to ascertain how many more were required. Also to be considered was the duration this lockdown would continue.
“We find prima facie substance in the submission of petitioner that at this time of national calamity permitting private Labs to charge Rs 4,500 for screening and confirmation test of COVID-19 may not be within means of a large part of population of this country and no person be deprived to undergo the COVID-19 test due to non- payment of capped amount of Rs 4,500,” the Supreme Court said.

“The private hospitals including laboratories have an important role to play in containing the scale of pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis,” it added.

“We thus are satisfied that the petitioner has made out a case for issuing a direction to the respondents to issue necessary direction to accredited private labs to conduct free of cost COVID-19 test,” the court said.
(With Agency Inputs ).





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