The Supreme Court on Monday, April 13, directed that Covid-19 tests will be conducted free of cost for the poor and needy people across the country. The apex court modified its earlier order in the matter. The earlier order, released on April 8 by the apex court suggested that the Centre should ensure that the testing facility is made available free of cost to all citizens.
Free COVID-19 testing for the needy
The top court, while hearing a petition challenging its earlier order, said that the free COVID-19 testing will be limited to the people belonging to the economically weaker sections and below the poverty line, who show their Ayush ID.
Others would have to pay for the testing facility, the court said.
Earlier, former AIIMS RDA president Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra had filed a petition seeking modification in its earlier order dated April 8 which had directed all the private laboratories to conduct free tests for COVID-19.
The petitioner had submitted that that private laboratories are burdened with free testing, adding that in the UK, private labs are charging an amount that equals Rs 32,500 for the tests. The Supreme Court had on April 8 directed that the tests relating to COVID-19 whether in approved government laboratories or approved private laboratories shall be conducted free of cost.
118 labs have total capacity of conducting 15,000 tests per day
After the court asked the Centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, to consider developing a reimbursement mechanism, Mehta said that he will take instructions from the government on this matter.
During the hearing through videoconferencing, Mehta contended that 118 labs in India have a total capacity of conducting 15,000 tests per day, and 47 private labs too had been roped in.
When Justice Bhushan insisted on not allowing labs to charge money for corona tests, Mehta said it was a developing situation for the labs and thus difficult to ascertain how many more were required. Also to be considered was the duration this lockdown would continue.