Telangana

Govt. response sought on COVID 19 tests

Why private labs allowed to charge, asks petitioner

Telangana High Court on Friday sought to know from the State government if private laboratories can conduct diagnostic tests for COVID-19 free of cost.

Hearing a PIL plea over private laboratories being allowed to charge ₹ 4,500 to conduct diagnostic tests for coronavirus, a bench of Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice K. Lakshman asked the government to explain its stand on the matter. A lawyer P. Thirumala Rao wrote a letter to HC Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan through email three days ago stating that in the backdrop of complete lockdown it would be difficult for people to spend ₹ 4,500 for diagnostic tests at private hospitals.

The letter was taken up suo motu as PIL petition by the HC. The lawyer said that the guidelines issued by Indian Council for Medical Research and the Centre stated private laboratories can charge ₹ 1,500 for screening test and an additional sum of ₹ 3,000 for confirmation tests. Though the Centre, through ICMR guidelines, made an appeal that private laboratories should conduct these test free of cost, the latter are gearing up to charge money from people, the lawyer said.

He submitted copies of some brochures being distributed by private laboratories about the charges for coronavirus diagnostic tests. Due to complete lockdown, many individuals in the country were deprived of their livelihood and making both ends meet had become difficult for lakhs of families, he stated.

In these circumstances, pooling up ₹ 4,500 for diagnostic tests would be impossible for them. Compelling people to shell out such amount during lockdown period was not fair. It was the responsibility of the government to take care of these expenses for all citizens, he stated. He stated in the letter that even the hygiene was poor in government hospitals where COVID-19 affected persons were admitted.

Governments and its agencies were issuing general statements without specifically explaining what are the sanitary conditions and facilities in State hospitals. It was high time government disclosed what sort of arrangements were made at these hospitals, the petitioner said.

Advocate General B.S. Prasad told the bench that government hospitals were well equipped to handle the situation. The government did not allow any private laboratories to conduct tests. All persons brought to government hospitals were being treated free of cost, be it diagnostic tests and medical treatment for COVID-19, he said.

Assistant Solicitor General N. Rajeshwara Rao said the Centre had granted 1.7 lakh crores to tackle Coronavirus. The bench sought to know how much money was released to Telangana State. Mr. Rao told the bench that he did not have the figures hand and would present the details during next hearing.

The plea was posted to Wednesday for hearing.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 8:16:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/govt-response-sought-on-covid-19-tests/article31251844.ece

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