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Capping of rates by Govt hits COVID-19 testing in State

By The Assam Tribune
Private labs unwilling to conduct tests

Rituraj Borthakur

Guwahati, April 12: COVID-19 testing capacity in the State has been affected with private laboratories in Guwahati refusing to carry out RT-PCR tests at the State Government stipulated rates, saying at that cost it was not feasible.

While some hospitals have outsourced the tests to private labs, some are avoiding the test altogether, hitting the testing capacity in the State where the COVID-19 graph is gradually rising.

In an order on April 3, the State Government had fixed the maximum rate chargeable for RT-PCR tests at Rs 500. If the sample is collected from home, Rs 700 can be charged. RAT cost was fixed at Rs 250.

Instructing all labs to display the revised tariff prominently and comply with it strictly, the order said non-compliance will attract action.

The order also asked the district administration and health authorities to enforce the rates.

However, an inquiry revealed that some hospitals were flouting the order. One private hospital at Six Mile was charging Rs 3,000, while another at Bhangagarh was charging Rs 1,800.

It is learnt that soon after the official order, a group of at least 23 hospitals wrote to the government asking it to reconsider the rate fixed. The letter also cited technicalities that make the cost of tests much higher.

Last year, after ICMR removed the price cap of Rs 4,500 for the RT-PCR tests, states were asked to negotiate with private labs and fix mutually agreeable rates.

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