ICMR caps cost of COVID-19 tests at pvt labs at Rs 4500

By Priyanka Sharma

New Delhi [India], Mar 22 (ANI): In a significant step, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in fresh guidelines for private laboratories doing COVID-19 tests, has capped the cost of the tests at Rs 4,500, even as it urged the private players to do the tests free of cost "in this hour of national public health emergency".

This comes amid spiralling coronavirus cases in the country that has forced various state and civic bodies to order shuttering of shopping malls, clubs, schools and other places of public gathering.

The cost includes Rs 1,500 for screening test for likely cases and an additional Rs 3,000 for a confirmation test.

As of now, only government laboratories are conducting the tests and doing it free of cost.

The test to be conducted by a laboratory which has NABL accreditation for real-time PCR assay for RNA virus. The tests should be done only when prescribed by a qualified physician as per the guidelines of ICMR for coronavirus testing.

"For the cost of testing, the national task force recommends that the maximum cost for testing samples should not exceed Rs.4,500. This may include Rs.1,500 as a screening test for a suspected case and an additional Rs.3,000 for confirmation test. However, ICMR encourages free or subsidised testing in this hour of national public health and agency," said ICMR order adding that failure to comply with any of the above guidelines will result in legal action.

For the collection of samples and testing, ICMR has directed to follow appropriate biosafety and biosecurity precautions while collecting the samples. Alternatively, a coronavirus specific separate sample collection site may be created.

For reporting protocols, ICMR has asked all laboratories to ensure immediate and real-time reporting with the contact details to the ICMR headquarter database.

The apex Medical research body has also directed that coronavirus positive samples will need to be transported to NIV Pune under suitable biosafety and biosecurity precautions as laid down by ICMR. The negative samples will be destroyed within one week of collection.

As of now, India has reported over 300 positive cases of coronavirus with four deaths across the country. (ANI)