In a bid to encourage more testing at a time when the national capital is witnessing an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases, the Delhi government on Monday (November 30) slashed the price of RT-PCR tests to ₹800, from as much as ₹2,400 charged by private labs earlier.
“I have directed that the rates of RT PCR tests be reduced in Delhi. Whereas tests are being conducted free of cost in government establishments, however this will help those who get their tests done in private labs,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
With the national capital recording the second-highest number of fatalities after Maharashtra in the country, Kejriwal earlier in the day had issued an order to reduce the rates of the RT-PCR tests, the most reliable diagnosis to detect the presence of the Sars-CoV-2 virus.
The government had earlier capped the price of all COVID-19 tests, whether from a government or private centre, in Delhi at ₹2,400. The decision was taken in a DDMA meeting chaired by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, and attended by Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, revenue minister Kailash Gahlot and other top officials from the Delhi Police, administration and AIIMS.
Prior to the ₹2,400 cap, the cost of a COVID-19 test was ₹4,500 if the private labs collected the sample and used their own kits, ₹3,500 if the government collected the samples and the private labs used their kits to test it; and ₹2,200 if the government collected the sample and provided the test kit as well. While the government paid these charges to the private labs, residents across Delhi were charged a flat rate of ₹4,500.
The decision to further reduce the test comes at a time when the national capital is logging a little less than 5,000 infections daily. On Sunday, Delhi recorded 4,906 new COVID-19 cases, the second consecutive day the city logged fewer than 5,000 infections, despite conducting more than 64,000 tests, indicating that the third and the sharpest wave of the disease in the Capital could be trending towards a decline.
Also, under the revised policy, district administrations are expected to, inside containment zones, to conduct RT-PCR tests on all residents aged above 60, pregnant women, and individuals with co-morbidities, irrespective of symptoms or direct contact with active cases, according to senior government officials aware of the new policy.