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Private labs in Delhi raise concerns over price capping of COVID-19 testing

ANI | Updated: Jun 23, 2020 22:51 IST

By Joymala Bagchi
New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI): After the government reduced prices for RT-PCR tests from Rs 4,500 to Rs 2,400, private labs claim to face serious hardship which in turn could force them to stop some of their services.
While speaking to ANI, private labs, strictly on the condition of anonymity said they will be providing the service till they can because as profit margin goes down to Rs 100 even directly from approximately Rs 300-Rs 400 and it will be difficult to run the lab and pay employee's salaries.
"More than 90 per cent labs have stopped home collection due to which people are facing problems. They have to come to the hospital and wait in the queue for long before getting their turn and tests reports are also getting delayed," a private lab administration said.
The labs are looking for several cost-cutting measures and stopping home collection is the one to start with, as it will save transportation cost as well as the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits.

"Our staff used to change the PPE kit each time they went to collect samples no matter if it is 16 samples' collection in a day which costs between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,200. Now, one staff who collects the swabs can wear it longer," another private lab said.
Earlier this month, the Delhi government barred few private labs from conducting COVID-19 tests for not following ICMR guidelines for testing asymptomatic patients. Their service was resumed later from June 10 onwards.
Testing in the national capital increased after Union Home minister Amit Shah directed that testing would be increased by three times.
"We followed each and every guideline provided by ICMR. When we used to go to the residence to collect a sample, it was one person at a time. Do you think we can sustain our operation if we go to houses for a test worth Rs 2,400? The government should reconsider the pricing at least for people who can afford home sampling," a private lab administration said.
On Monday, the Delhi High Court questioned the Delhi government why it was not allowing private labs and hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients to conduct rapid antigen tests.
The High Court also noted that it has not been able to meet its own targets of conducting the same in the national capital.
According to the Delhi health bulletin, 16,952 tests were conducted on Tuesday in the national capital. The number of total confirmed cases in Delhi is 62,655. (ANI)