Top Medical Body May Cap COVID-19 Tests At Private Labs To Below Rs 5,000

The health ministry had issued guidelines for private sector labs intending to initiate COVID-19 testing while the ICMR appealed to them to conduct the tests free of cost.

Top Medical Body May Cap COVID-19 Tests At Private Labs To Below Rs 5,000

Private labs should test only when prescribed by a qualified physician, ICMR said (Representational)

New Delhi:

After giving its nod to accredited private labs to conduct Coronavirus tests amid rising number of cases in the country, the ICMR is likely to issue instructions capping the price of each test between Rs 4,500 and Rs 5,000, an official said on Friday.

The Union health ministry had on Tuesday issued guidelines for private sector laboratories intending to initiate COVID-19 testing while the ICMR appealed to them to conduct the tests free of cost.

"It seems nobody is willing to do it free-of-cost and that is why private labs would be asked to cap the price of each test for COVID-19 between Rs 4,500 and Rs 5,000," the official said.

According to official sources, around 51 private laboratories have approached the government to let them test for the respiratory ailment which has infected 223 people and claimed four lives in the country so far.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines, laboratory tests for coronavirus at private labs should be done when prescribed by a qualified physician.

"Private labs testing is to ensure real time reporting to Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and the ICMR headquarters for timely initiation of contact tracing and research activities," ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava had said.

ICMR will share the standard operating procedure for laboratory testing and provide positive controls for establishing the test as soon as the private laboratories procure the primers, probes and reagents.

Adoption of commercial kits for testing should be based on validations conducted by the ICMR, National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.

Appropriate biosafety and biosecurity precautions should be ensured while collecting samples from suspected coronavirus patients.

At present the ICMR has equipped 72 of its laboratories to test for the pandemic. In addition to these labs, 49 more under organisations like Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Department of Biotechnology, and Defence Research, Development Organisation would be equipped to test for coronavirus by end of this week, Mr Bhargava said.

The ICMR will also set up two testing locations (NCR and Bhubaneswar) for high output diagnostic systems for exponentially increasing rapid diagnosing of the respiratory ailment.

These systems can test up to 1400 samples daily, he said.