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Rate for COVID-19 tests in Kerala’s private labs capped

The State government has issued orders capping the rate of COVID-19 testing in private sector laboratories between ₹1,500 and ₹2,750.

Accordingly, the price for RT-PCR (reverse transcription – polymerase chain reaction) diagnostic test for COVID-19 has been fixed at ₹2,750 as against the current rate of ₹4,500.

The Centre had earlier fixed the ceiling of COVID-19 RT-PCR tests at ₹ 4,500. On May 25, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had removed this price cap and had said that the State governments could fix the rates.

Following this, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Delhi brought down the rates. An expert committee guiding the government on COVID-19 containment strategies had also recommended that the highly variable COVID-19 testing rates in the private sector might be made uniform and that the government should exercise price control over the rates.

The government had negotiated with the representatives of private labs in the State, following which an overall reduction in COVID-19 testing rates had been put in place.

For other tests

The rate fixed by the government for Xpert NAT test is ₹3,000, TrueNAT Step 1 assay is ₹1,500, and TrueNAT Step II confirmatory assay for those who test positive in Step 1 will now be ₹1,500.

The ICMR had directed all State governments to ensure full capacity utilisation of all COVID-19 testing labs in respective States.

Utilisation

The capacity utilisation of COVID-19 testing labs in the private sector is grossly sub-optimal, it had been pointed out.

The State has thus decided to increase accessibility to COVID-19 testing for citizens and to reduce the turnaround time of testing by entering into a public-private partnership (PPP) with the private labs approved by the ICMR for RT-PCR testing.

The charges for COVID-19 samples referred by the government to the private labs have been fixed at ₹2,500 for individual RT-PCR tests.

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