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Karnataka govt caps Covid-19 RT-PCR test prices at airports

🔴While the conventional RT-PCR test, which takes the most time (nearly five hours to obtain results) is priced at Rs 500, the Cepheid Gene Expert test (results expected in 25 minutes) costs Rs 2,750 per sample.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
December 8, 2021 12:14:06 pm
The conventional RT-PCR test, which takes nearly five hours to obtain results, is priced at Rs 500 at Bengaluru airport. (Representational image via Reuters)

With Covid-19 testing measures enhanced in Karnataka airports, including Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, for international arrivals in the wake of Omicron cases being diagnosed in the city, the state government on Tuesday capped the prices for various testing methods.

While the conventional RT-PCR test, which takes the most time (nearly five hours to obtain results) is priced at Rs 500, the Cepheid Gene Expert test (results expected in 25 minutes) costs Rs 2,750 per sample.

The other testing methods available for international arrivals are the Abbott ID test (Rs 3,000), Thermo-Fisher Accula test (Rs 1,500), and Tata MD3 Gene fast/Tata MDXF test (Rs 1,200).

According to state health secretary T K Anil Kumar, the availability of a variety of tests “ensures faster testing of passengers and better compliance of Covid-appropriate behaviour in holding areas of the airport”.

The Karnataka government, acting upon guidelines issued by the Centre last week, had made RT-PCR testing mandatory for all travellers arriving at airports in the state from ‘at-risk’ countries where Omicron cases were detected. The order clarified that the cost of the test should be borne by the passengers themselves.

However, the same order mentioned that only 2 per cent of international passengers arriving from non-risk countries would be subjected to RT-PCR testing on arrival. A day later, the Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL) announced that the cost of such tests (random testing for arrivals from non-risk countries) would be borne by the airport authorities.

Meanwhile, The Karnataka health department stated that none of the 354 passengers who arrived Tuesday at the Bengaluru airport from ‘at-risk’ countries tested positive for Covid-19.

Among them, 271 were tested using rapid PCR and 43 the conventional RT-PCR. “While none who were tested on December 7 tested positive, 40 passengers who were aged below 5 years were not tested, as per the guidelines by the Centre,” an official said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the health department stated that 4,225 fliers (including children) landed at the airport from December 1 to 6 in 17 flights from ‘at-risk’ countries tested negative upon arrival.

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