Kerala slashes cost of Covid-19 tests as fresh cases continue to mount
Kerala’s Covid-19 test positivity rate is 13.49% against the national average of 8.2 %.Updated: Oct 21, 2020, 21:18 IST
Struggling with a fatigued health system and rising Covid-19 graph, the Kerala health department has decided to increase the number of tests and reduce their prices as the state reported 8,369 new cases on Wednesday.
Kerala Covid-19 tally now stands at 3,61,841 out of which 2,67,082 have recovered and the number of active cases is 93,425. There were 26 casualties taking the death toll 1,231.
The state’s test positivity rate (TPR) is 13.49% against the national average of 8.2 %. According to the latest union health ministry data at least 22 states are below the national average and six are above it.
On Wednesday, Kerala’s health ministry announced that the cost of RT-PCR tests to detect Covid-19 has been reduced to Rs 2100 from 2750 and two-phase TrueNat which was at Rs 3000 will be priced at Rs 2200 but antigen tests will remain at Rs 625.
It has also decided to permit Covid-19 testing kiosks outside all hospitals and labs approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Though tests are free in government hospitals, huge backlogs force many to turn to private laboratories and hospitals. The government has capped prices to avoid overpricing by private laboratories, it said. Despite medical experts’ advising the government to double Covid-19 tests, Kerala’s rate of testing is poor compared to neighboring states. On Wednesday it conducted 62,030 tests.
Last week Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said the state would conduct at least one lakh tests a day but statistics show it never crossed 70,000.
“We have been warning the government for quite some time. We have to increase tests considerably. The government should heed healthy criticism and advice rather than targeting them,” said Dr S S Lal, a public health expert who had earlier served with the World Health Organisation.