In a first for the country, Maharashtra on Saturday (June 13) slashed the charges levied by private laboratories for coronavirus testing by 50 per cent.
State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the significant move would make the COVID-19 test fee in the state uniform and lowest in the country.
Currently, private labs across India charge between ₹4,500 and ₹5,200 for conducting coronavirus tests and the state government’s move will make the service affordable for all.
“Even several organisations that wanted to conduct tests on their employees found it too expensive and hence we decided to study the issue,” Tope told news agency IANS.
The issue of higher charges making the testing process unaffordable for a large section of the population was studied by a committee of experts, headed by Dr Suhakar Shinde and comprising Dr Sadhna Tayde, Dr Ajay Chandanwale, and Prof Amit Joshi.
“They recommended ₹2,200 to ₹2,800 rate (for home tests) that we have accepted and implemented. This will prove to be a huge relief to the people,” the Minister said.
Keeping in mind the rapidly rising number of cases and tests conducted in the state, Tope said the rates must come down and private labs must desist from profiteering.
“As of date, Maharashtra has conducted 6.25 lakh tests, the highest in the country, with the maximum taking place in Mumbai. The lower rates would enable more people to go for COVID-19 tests,” he said.
In Maharashtra, the tests are being conducted at 95 labs, including 42 private labs.
Tope said the tests at lower rates would be done without compromising on the ICMR guidelines.
Of the 101,141 coronavirus cases reported in the state, 49,616 are active. While 3,717 people died, 47,796 fully recovered.