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COVID-19 tests in approved govt, private labs must be free of cost: Supreme Court

The court also observed that no person should be deprived to undergo the COVID-19 test due to non-payment of capped amount of Rs 4,500.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 9, 2020 12:52:28 am
Coronavirus cases, Gujarat cases, positive case, Himmatnagar case, indian express news In the current scenario, private labs were allowed to charge Rs 4,500 from people to test for coronavirus. (File)

With COVID-19 cases showing no signs of easing in India, the Supreme Court Wednesday ordered that novel coronavirus tests in approved government or private laboratories should be conducted free of cost. It also directed the Centre to immediately issue directions in this regard.

“Tests relating to COVID-19 whether in approved Government Laboratories or approved private Laboratories shall be free of cost”, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat, which heard the matter via video conferencing, said.

(Data inputs: Karishma Mehrotra; Editing: Kabir Firaque; Graphics: Mithun Chakraborty & Ritesh Kumar)

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The apex court also said tests must be carried out in NABL accredited la.bs or any agencies approved by World Health Organisation (WHO) or Indian Centre for Medical Research (ICMR).

(Data inputs: Karishma Mehrotra; Editing: Kabir Firaque; Graphics: Mithun Chakraborty & Ritesh Kumar)

The court also issued directions on a PIL filed by advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi seeking a direction to the Centre and authorities to provide free of cost testing facility for COVID-19 to all citizens in the country.

(Data inputs: Karishma Mehrotra; Editing: Kabir Firaque; Graphics: Mithun Chakraborty & Ritesh Kumar) (Data inputs: Karishma Mehrotra; Editing: Kabir Firaque; Graphics: Mithun Chakraborty & Ritesh Kumar)

“We find prima facie substance in the submission of petitioner that at this time of national calamity permitting private labs to charge Rs 4,500 for screening and confirmation test of COVID-19 may not be within means of a large part of population of this country and no person be deprived to undergo the COVID-19 test due to non-payment of capped amount of Rs 4,500,” the bench said in its order.

(Data inputs: Karishma Mehrotra; Editing: Kabir Firaque; Graphics: Mithun Chakraborty & Ritesh Kumar) (Data inputs: Karishma Mehrotra; Editing: Kabir Firaque; Graphics: Mithun Chakraborty & Ritesh Kumar) (Data inputs: Karishma Mehrotra; Editing: Kabir Firaque; Graphics: Mithun Chakraborty & Ritesh Kumar) (Data inputs: Karishma Mehrotra; Editing: Kabir Firaque; Graphics: Mithun Chakraborty & Ritesh Kumar) (Data inputs: Karishma Mehrotra; Editing: Kabir Firaque; Graphics: Mithun Chakraborty & Ritesh Kumar) (Data inputs: Karishma Mehrotra; Editing: Kabir Firaque; Graphics: Mithun Chakraborty & Ritesh Kumar)

EXPLAINED | Coronavirus testing in India: What government guidelines say

Noting the Centre’s submission that government laboratories are conducting the COVID-19 tests free of cost, the court stated that 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 for issuing a direction to the respondents to issue necessary direction to accredited private Labs to conduct free of cost COVID-19 test,” the bench said.

The total number of cases n India rose to 5,274, including 149 deaths, the Union Health Ministry said in its latest briefing.

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