State Medical Education Minister Amit Deshmukh, who was in Pune on Friday to review the situation in the city, said the price to conduct a Covid-19 test has already been lowered in Mumbai. “Along similar lines, we are also planning to reduce the Covid-19 test price in Pune and other districts,” said Deshmukh.
“We will go by the Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines and we have appealed to the private sector that prices should come down as the volume of testing has increased,” Deshmukh said while addressing a press conference in Pune on Friday.
“We are negotiating with private laboratories and have brought down the rate in Mumbai… and a similar decision will be taken in Pune and other districts,” said Deshmukh.
Dr Sanjay Mukherjee, secretary of Medical Education and Drugs department, Maharashtra, told The Indian Express that a four-member panel appointed by the state was in negotiations with the approved list of over 80 laboratories on fixing prices for Covid-19 tests for each district. “They will arrive at a final price soon. The rates will be different for each district depending on factors like workload, transport costs and so on,” said Mukherjee.
He said there was a major misconception regarding the price cap of Rs 4,500 for the test and lifting of the price cap. “A price cap means you cannot charge over that amount. ICMR has not lifted the price cap but told states to negotiate with the labs to further reduce prices,” he said.
“For instance, in Mumbai, after negotiations with vendors, the rate is Rs 3,500, in Thane it is approximately Rs 3,000. The rate was fixed at Rs 4,500 as there was a huge shortage of kits initially and they were being imported. Now, with indigenous ones in the market, the cost for the labs conducting the tests has come down and there is a possibility of negotiating the price and reducing it further,” Mukherjee explained.
“This high-powered committee has been given a week’s time to negotiate the prices and to make a standard tender document for all districts .The district will float these short notice tenders and whichever is the lower price – the negotiated or the tendered price — will be the one…,” Mukherjee said.
Earlier, Deshmukh held a meeting with officials from Sassoon General Hospital, Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar, Pune Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad, Zilla Parishad CEO Ayush Prasad and S Chokalingam, the land settlement commissioner who has been given additional administrative charge of Sassoon General Hospital, on strategies to bring down mortality rate due to Covid-19.
“The fight against Covid-19 is no longer restricted to hospitals and it is up to all of us to ensure that the spread of the infection is restricted,” said the minister.
While responding to a query on the lockdown, Deshmukh said the manner in which it was implemented had led to difficulties, and that could have been avoided.
An asymptomatic Covid-19 patient will be allowed to be in home quarantine under the periodic supervision of a medical officer, the Maharashtra government said on Friday. “The medical practitioner must certify that he is taking care of the person who does not have symptoms but has tested positive,” Medical Education Minister Amit Deshmukh said.
He also assured that the state government will prioritise the health sector. “We have learnt a lot during the Covid-19 crisis. There is a need to standardise our hospitals, and standard operating practices must be implemented,” he said.
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