Supreme Court orders all COVID-19 tests to be made free

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the government must ensure that Coronavirus tests are conducted for free in both state-run and private laboratories. Tests in government labs are free currently.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat ruled this after hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) which challenged the Centre’s decision of allowing private laboratories to charge up to Rs. 4,500 for the tests.

Whether the private laboratories would be refunded the cost of conducting the tests by the government will be decided later. The bench said that many people may not be able to pay the amount for getting themselves tested for COVID-19. They also said that the laboratories need to extend their services to the people on humanitarian ground at such a time of national crisis.

Initially, the private laboratories in the country were not allowed to conduct tests for COVID-19. The permission was given to them by the Centre last month.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been stressing on the importance of testing to check the spread of COVID-19. Countries like Germany and the United States are reported to test around 50,000 and one lakh people daily respectively. However, India which has a much larger population of 130 crore is still conducting around 10,000-11,000 tests per day.

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