The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that all COVID-19 tests both in approved government and private laboratories will be conducted free of cost. This top court passed the interim order while hearing a plea filed by one Shashank Deo Sudhi, who had contested the central government’s decision to cap the cost of the test in private labs at Rs 4,500.
The court, according to Livelaw website, said in its order, “The tests relating to COVID-19 whether in approved Government Laboratories or approved private Laboratories shall be free of cost. The respondents shall issue the necessary direction in this regard immediately.
“Tests relating to COVID-19 must be carried out in NABL accredited Labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR.”
The top court also said that the issue of whether private laboratories were entitled to reimbursement from the government for the expenses incurred for COVID-19 tests will be considered later.
IMPORTANT UPDATE :
SC orders that COVID-19 test in approved private laboratories shall be free of cost.
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) April 8, 2020
The bench 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. We thus are satisfied that the petitioner has made out a case.”
India has registered more than 5,000 active coronavirus cases with 149 fatalities. Many critics have criticised the government for not conducting enough testing to ascertain the true picture of the spread of the virus. Others had argued that Rs 4,500 as test fee in private labs was simply unaffordable for a large section of Indians, who are already feeling the pinch of the economic slump in the current lockdown, which is expected to end on 14 April.