Cost of all Covid tests in Delhi capped at Rs 2,400

Updated on Jun 19, 2020 01:28 AM IST

Documents presented in the meeting, seen by HT, showed that the expert panel constituted by Union home minister Amit Shah on June 14 under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog member Dr Vinod K Paul did not recommend revising the prices for tests conducted solely by private labs in Delhi.

Until now, the cost of a Covid-19 test was Rs 4,500 if the private labs collected the sample and used their own kits, Rs 3,500 if the government collected the samples and the private labs used their kits to test it; and Rs 2,200 if the government collected the sample and provided the test kit as well. While the government paid these charges to the private labs, residents across Delhi were charged a flat rate of Rs 4,500.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
Until now, the cost of a Covid-19 test was Rs 4,500 if the private labs collected the sample and used their own kits, Rs 3,500 if the government collected the samples and the private labs used their kits to test it; and Rs 2,200 if the government collected the sample and provided the test kit as well. While the government paid these charges to the private labs, residents across Delhi were charged a flat rate of Rs 4,500.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Basing on the report by a Central government committee that recommended reducing the price of only government collected Covid-19 test samples to Rs 2,400, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Thursday went a step ahead and approved lowering the rates for all Covid-19 tests, including by private firms. In effect, all Covid-19 tests, whether from a government or private centre in Delhi, will now cost Rs 2,400.

The decision, which came into effect on Thursday itself, was taken in a DDMA meeting chaired by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, and attended by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, revenue minister Kailash Gahlot and other top officials from the Delhi Police, administration and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Documents presented in the meeting, seen by HT, showed that the expert panel constituted by Union home minister Amit Shah on June 14 under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog member Dr Vinod K Paul did not recommend revising the prices for tests conducted solely by private labs in Delhi.

The panel only recommended reducing the rates of for the samples collected by the government for private labs.

Until now, the cost of a Covid-19 test was Rs 4,500 if the private labs collected the sample and used their own kits, Rs 3,500 if the government collected the samples and the private labs used their kits to test it; and Rs 2,200 if the government collected the sample and provided the test kit as well. While the government paid these charges to the private labs, residents across Delhi were charged a flat rate of Rs 4,500.

The Central government panel’s recommendation was limited to the second category.

“After detailed discussions and taking all factors into account, it was decided to fix a rate of Rs 2,400 for each RT-PCR test applicable to specimens provided by the government (panel). The specimens will be collected by the government facility on its own. The cost is all-inclusive of: a) the cost involved in pick-up and transportation of samples, documentation and reporting b) includes GST/Taxes is any,” read the document that was presented in the DDMA meeting on Thursday.

Later in the evening, Delhi’s principal health secretary issued the order revising the testing rates with immediate effect. The order stated that the rates recommended are the maximum chargeable for samples collected by any facility, whether government or private.

Members of the committee could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

In a press statement issued by the Union ministry of home affairs on Thursday, the ministry said, “The expert committee under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog Member Dr V.K Paul has fixed a price of Rs. 2,400 for COVID-19 tests.”

Senior government officials present in the DDMA meeting said key members of the authority were of the opinion that the committee’s recommendations be accepted as it is.

“With the DDMA’s decision, now even those who get Covid tests done on their own from private labs will be charged Rs 2,400 instead of Rs 4,500 — a point the Central government panel stayed silent on. In the meeting, the chief minister insisted that tests from private labs are very expensive for the common person. While there was some reluctance among a few members initially, a price of Rs 2,800 per test was proposed in the discussions,” said an official present in the meeting.

However, on the CM’s insistence and with the L-G’s approval, it was decided that the price will be reduced to Rs 2,400 for all categories,” the official said

In the meeting, the L-G directed the Delhi health department to ensure that the labs adhere to general quality standards and provide robust patient feedback. He also asked that a grievance redressal system be set up for those who get tested as well as those seeking a test.

“It was also informed that antigen detection tests have commenced with effect from today at about 169 locations with 341 teams. ICMR [Indian Council of Medical Research] has already conducted training for the concerned health professionals. During the antigen detection tests, all social distancing norms will be observed. The medical teams at the centres will ensure that all Covid positive cases should be followed up for treatment as per the guidelines and protocol issued by the ICMR,” read a statement issued by the L-G’s office later in the day.

Delhi divisional commissioner Sanjiv Khirwar said, till 3pm on Thursday, 4,500 antigen tests were conducted across the city.

“The DDMA also approved the format of the Covid-free certificates to be issued by hospitals for patients who have recovered,” Khirwar said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sweta Goswami writes on politics, urban development, transportation, energy and social welfare. Based in Delhi, she tracks government policies and suggests corrections based on public feedback and on-ground implementation through her reports. She has also covered the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) since its inception.

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