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Supreme Court demands private COVID-19 tests to be free

The government has been given the time of two weeks to respond to the court’s notice of making COVID-19 tests free in private labs.

Apr 9, 2020 13:02 IST
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In an interim order, the Supreme court has asked the government to make COVID-19 tests by private laboratories free of charge. The private labs are currently charging Rs 4500 for a coronavirus test while they are free at government laboratories.

A two-judge bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and Ravindra Singh Bhatt agreed with the claim of the petitioner, advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi, that the charges are not affordable by most of the people.

The bench highlighted the role of private labs in the diagnosis of COVID-19 pandemic and mentioned the need for extending free services at the time of the national crisis.

Key Highlights:

The government has been given the time of two weeks to respond to the court’s notice of making COVID-19 tests free in private labs.

As per the court, the tests must be carried out in labs that are certified by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) or agencies that are approved by the Indian Council of Medical and Research (ICMR) and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta pointed out that since 118 labs could do only 15,000 tests, private labs play an important role.

Co-Convenor of All India Drug Action Network (AI-DAN) welcomed the decision and mentioned that AI-DAN along with other health groups had written to the government to make testing as well as treatment of COVID-19 free.

Reimbursement to Private Labs:

In Supreme Court’s interim order suggesting the government to make COVID-19 tests free in private labs, Justice Bhushan also mentioned the reimbursement.

The cost put up by private labs in the testing and treatment of COVID-19 can be reimbursed by the government.

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