In an order issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), it has capped the diagnostic test for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at ₹4500.

“This includes ₹1500 as a screening test for suspect cases and an additional ₹3000 for confirmation test,” the order states.

While the Indian Council of Medical Research has said that it encourages free or subsidised tests in the hour of National public health emergency, industry players had expressed the need of ICMR to supply diagnostic kits to private labs to make this feasible.

What the order states

While paving way for testing in private labs, the MoHFW order states that they will have to report the number of tests conducted in real-time to ICMR. Each lab will be given a registration number and all data should be made available to MoHFW for contact tracing of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

If a sample is found positive for COVID-19, then it will be handed over by the private lab to ICMR’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) following rules of biosafety and biosecurity. The negative samples will be destroyed by the private labs within one week of testing, and samples shall not be shared by private labs with any organization, MoHFW has instructed.

In the order, MoHFW has also mentioned that private labs should create separate COVID-19 sample collection site and technicians should visit patients’ homes to collect suspected COVID-19 samples. This will help avoid contact of people with the suspect case, as local travel of the case will be avoided, MoHFW has stated.

The technicians of private labs should also collect a government identity card of a patient giving suspect sample, so it eases contact tracing of the patient for MoHFW.

MoHFW has said that lab test can only be offered to a symptomatic patient according to government guidelines as prescribed by a qualified physician. Currently only those symptomatic with cough, fever, breathlessness having international travel history or contacts of those with travel history who are confirmed cases as well as all patients suffering from pneumonia, and health care workers who are symptomatic are being offered tests.

The total number of COVID-19 confirmed cases stand at 315, 79 cases up as compared to previous day’s number of 236 cases, an increase of 79 cases over a day. This includes 23 cured cases and four deaths.