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COVID-19: Supreme Court Asks Govt To Ensure Free Coronavirus Tests In State-Run, Private Labs

A Bench Of Justices Ashok Bhushan And S Ravindra Bhat Said That Tests Relating To COVID-19 Or Coronavirus Must Be Carried Out In NABL Accredited Labs Or Any Agencies Approved By WHO Or ICMR.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Pawas Kumar | Updated on: 08 Apr 2020, 08:59:07 PM
supreme court

Whether the private labs should be reimbursed by the government, will be decided later, the court said. (Photo Credit: PTI File)

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court has asked government to ensure coronavirus tests are free in both state-run and private diagnostic labs. The coronavirus tests are already free at government hospitals. However, private labs can charge up to Rs 4,500 for the test. In response to a PIL, the top court said the private hospitals including laboratories have an important role to play in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat, which heard the matter via video conferencing, said that tests relating to COVID-19 or coronavirus must be carried out in NABL accredited Labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR.

Whether the private labs should be reimbursed by the government, will be decided later, the court said.

"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 Supreme Court said.

"We, thus, issue following interim directions to the respondents: (i)The tests relating to COVID-19 whether in approved Government Laboratories or approved private Laboratories shall be free of cost. The respondents (Centre and other authorities) shall issue necessary direction in this regard immediately. (ii) Tests relating to COVID-19 must be carried out in NABL accredited Labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR," the bench said.

"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," it added.

According to the latest numbers from the Health Ministry, India has registered over 5,200 coronavirus cases and 149 deaths. (With PTI Inputs)

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First Published : 08 Apr 2020, 08:01:42 PM