Coronavirus tests should be free in both govt and private labs: SC

A Supreme Court bench comprising Mr Justice Ashok Bhushan and Mr Justice S Ravindra Bhat heard the matter: SHASHANK DEO SUDHI VS. UNION OF INDIA & ORS. through video conferencing in a Public Interest Litigation filed by Advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi, who challenged the Government decision to fix the cost of the COVID-19 testing in private labs at Rs. 4500 and sought a direction to the government to make COVID-19 testing free of cost across the country.

The Hon’ble supreme court of India struck down the notification passed by the government saying that the maximum amount of money that can be charged by a private laboratory is Rs. 4500 for a test for COVID-19. The Supreme Court suggested that all private laboratories should conduct this test free of cost keeping in mind the bigger picture.

In its interim order, the SC said, “The private hospitals including laboratories have an important role to play in containing the scale of a pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis.” and COVID-19 tests must be carried out only in National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)-accredited Labs, or any agency approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The question of whether the private laboratories carrying free of cost COVID-19 tests are entitled to any reimbursement of expenses incurred shall be considered later on.

Epidemics like COVID needs early identification, Quarantine, Tests, Diagnosis, Prognosis and Rehabilitation. Can a single individual plus his family members bear the cost? The test is the need of the hour; no one will volunteer for tests if it is not free. COVID Tests And related activities have to come from governments and multilateral organizations. Ministry of Health should identify gaps in a national capacity, and support the design and implementation of national preparedness plans. We have to make India free from pandemic COVID-19 and no one should be left behind. It is only possible when the tests are free.

The testing of this novel Coronavirus in the entire country is needed at a large scale and we all know that every state has a different constituency and each constituency is represented by an MP or MLA, if those MP’s or MLA’s will take initiative to conduct a test in their constituency with the help of state health department then the problem of a nationwide test to ensure that each and everyone is safe could be achieved.