Delhi Govt caps COVID test price, RAT to cost Rs 300, RT-PCR ranges between Rs 300 to Rs 700
New Delhi: In a significant move amid ongoing pandemic, the Delhi government on Wednesday capped the price of conventional RT-PCR test and Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) for Covid-19 detection in private hospitals and laboratories.
Earlier, the rate of Covid-19 RT-PCR tests at private hospitals and labs was capped at Rs 800 while that of home collection of samples was capped at Rs 1200.
Now, through its recent order, the government has revised the rates that ranges between Rs 300 to Rs 700.
RT-PCR test will now cost Rs 300 in the national capital when samples are collected by the government teams. RAT will also cost Rs 300 at private laboratories, while tests conducted at government establishments remain free.
In cases where individuals, at their own expense, give samples at private laboratories, private hospitals or collection facilities for an RT-PCR test, the maximum rate, inclusive of all charges and taxes, would now be Rs 500.
However, where samples for RT-PCR test are collected through home visits, including charges of visit, sample collection and testing cost, the maximum chargeable rate, inclusive of all charges, would be Rs 700.
If samples are collected by private laboratory teams for government, the maximum charge would be Rs 400.
Further, all laboratories and private hospitals that conduct Covid-19 tests have been instructed by the Delhi government to display the new rates within 24 hours.
"Processing of samples, sharing the reports with the client (government of individual) and updation of all reports on ICMR portal will be ensured latest within 24 hours of collection of samples," the order read.
The move was welcomed by private hospitals and laboratories, however, some lab owners stated that they will now have to explore suppliers who can provide testing kits at lower cost to sustain margins for backend workforce, reports PTI.
Welcoming the decision Dr Bhagwan Mantri, Senior Consultant, Respiratory and Chest Medicine at Moolchand Hospital said, "RT-PCR tests are required for everything these days - for travel purposes and for hospital admissions. Capping of prices will help people in going for tests and they will not be hesitant. It will also prevent people from going in for fake test reports that are available for Rs 200-300."
Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, said, "Ideally RT-PCR test should be free but this is a good step taken by the Delhi government to cut down the rates for this test and we are hoping that this step will prove our biggest weapon in the fight against Covid."
"This step also signifies that the Delhi government is speeding up preparation to stop the upcoming third wave. We welcome this decision wholeheartedly. It is an excellent step taken by our Delhi government," he said.
Chetan Kohli, COO, Genestrings Diagnostics in Malviya Nagar, also welcomed the move and said that subsidised rates will ensure more people can afford RT-PCR tests but the price cap may affect the labs' ability to manage costs that entails kits and consumables, as well as manpower, logistics among others.
"The older price was a fair and affordable price with a decent incentive for smaller labs to continue investing further in enhancing their capacity. Hence, in hindsight this price reduction may hurt the overall need to enhance capacity. Now, we may have to explore suppliers who are providing kits at a lower cost to ensure the margins are enough to sustain the backend workforce required to ensure adherence to the mandate -- sample collection, testing, and reporting and data upload within 24 hours," Kohli said.
Aditya Saini, Founder and CEO, CNC PATHLAB, said that it is a great move by the Delhi government when people are losing lives due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which is coming with new variant every now and then.
"Slashing down the rates of testing will encourage more people to come out and get themselves tested. Get yourself tested for Covid is the first line of defence against the disease. We are also ready to face the peak of testing with this announcement," Saini said.