scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Cost for rapid RT-PCR tests different across airports; prices high in Mumbai

Most airports have tied up with single vendors for offering these tests, but even in airports such as Mumbai which have multiple vendors in place, the rates for the tests are the same. At Delhi Airport, the rapid PCR test costs Rs 3,500 while a normal RT-PCR test costs Rs 500.

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi |
Updated: December 12, 2021 7:26:32 am
A health worker takes a swab sample of a passenger for Covid-19 testing at T-3 terminal of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, in New Delhi. (Express Photo By Amit Mehra/File)

A significant variance between the country’s large privately-managed international airports and state-run airports in terms of the cost of rapid RT-PCR tests means that bulk of the international arrivals are subjected to expensive Covid-19 tests.

For example, the rapid PCR test costs Rs 1,580 at Kozhikode airport, while the rates at Mumbai and Hyderabad airports are 2.5 times at Rs 3,900. This is an indication of the margins at stake despite the fact that in the latter two rates have been brought down by 13.3 per cent after the state governments intervened citing overcharging.

Most airports have tied up with single vendors for offering these tests, but even in airports such as Mumbai which have multiple vendors in place, the rates for the tests are the same. At Delhi Airport, the rapid PCR test costs Rs 3,500 while a normal RT-PCR test costs Rs 500.

The top four international airports — Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru — account for more than half of the international traffic arriving in India. According to AAI data, these four airports saw 12.23 lakh passengers in October, out of the total 22.22 lakh international passengers that arrived in India that month. Comparatively, Kozhikode saw 1.45 lakh passengers, Goa 9,565 passengers, Kolkata 34,076 and Chennai 1.57 lakh passengers.

One reason being flagged for the high prices is the 30-35% revenue share being collected by the airport operators for the tests. Government-owned airport operators have, however, decided to forgo their revenue share.

In the context of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the Centre has mandated RT-PCR tests for all travellers arriving from ‘at-risk’ countries. These include European countries, in addition to South Africa, China, etc.

A normal RT-PCR test for Covid-19 at Hyderabad airport — which takes a few hours for the results — costs Rs 750 while Rapid PCR tests that take about an hour to show results cost Rs 3,900. The price for rapid PCR was only recently reduced from Rs 4,500 earlier. Similarly, in Mumbai, the Rapid PCR test costs as much at Rs 3,900 but this too was reduced from Rs 4,500 last week after the state government’s intervention. Normal RT-PCR at Mumbai airport costs Rs 600. Last week, the Maharashtra government had written to the Union health ministry seeking uniformity in charges for rapid RT-PCR tests as costs were “very high”.

According to an official at one of the airport operators, the price for normal RT-PCR is decided by the government but that of rapid PCR tests is decided by the diagnostic laboratory. At Delhi Airport, for example, Genestrings Diagnostics is the sole service provider. The Delhi Airport, which is operated by GMR, sources said, has been asked by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to on board more service providers. Another GMR-run airport — the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad — has MapMyGenome.

At the Mumbai Airport, operated by the Adani Group, there are three service providers — Lifenity, Suburban Diagnostics and Acu-MD (Mylabs) — for international arrivals. At Ahmedabad Airport, also operated by Adani Group, Northstar Pathology Labs is the designated lab. At Ahmedabad, normal RT-PCR tests cost Rs 400 while rapid RT-PCR tests cost Rs 2,700. The rapid test prices are high not only at private airports but also at AAI-run airports. At Kolkata Airport, rapid tests cost Rs 2,900 after the price was slashed twice — from Rs 4,000 to Rs 3,600. This was also possible as a result of AAI deciding to forgo its revenue share.

The primary dissimilarity between the normal RT-PCR tests and rapid PCR tests is the time taken for the results. According to information sourced from Mumbai Airport website, normal RT-PCR test results take up to 8-10 hours while rapid RT-PCR test results are provided within 1-2 hours. However, the airport has also noted that “due to a surge in tests conducted, there could be a slight delay in reports”. E-mail queries sent to GMR Group, Adani Airports, Bengaluru Airport and the Airports Authority of India did not elicit a response.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
0 Comment(s) *
* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by indianexpress.com.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement