Supreme Court clarifies free coronavirus tests in private labs only for poor
New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Monday changed its recent ruling and ordered that the testing of coronavirus must be free only for poor people at the private laboratories.
It mentioned that the testing of COVID-19 infection must be free for those who are covered under Ayushman Bharat Health Policy, which is already mandated by the government.
The court also directed the Centre to issue guidelines within a week listing other categories of economically weaker sections for free testing.
A bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and Ravindra Bhat passed the order after hearing submissions on video-conferences.
This came after the ICMR filed an application in the court to cancel its April 8 order asking for free tests worldwide for coronavirus in both private and government run laboratories.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing on behalf of several laboratories, said that ICMR had fixed Rs 4,500 as the price of a covid-19 test, which was on the “moderate side". It would be impossible for private labs to carry on free testing due to financial constraints and other factors. He said the kits used in the test are imported and expensive.
After listening to the argument, the court directed Central Government and health ministry to draft appropriate policy in the matter within a week.