Relatives of a Covid victim at a crematorium in Mumbai on Saturday.
PUNE: Maharashtra on Saturday slashed the cost of a Covid-19 test in any private laboratory by more than half to Rs 2,200 from Rs 4,500 with immediate effect. State health minister Rajesh Tope said the revised rate was the lowest in the country.
Tope told TOI that Rs 2,200 each would be charged for collecting swabs through viral transport media (VTM) from hospitals. For collection of swabs from home, Rs 2,800 will be charged. The old rate for home collection of swabs was Rs 5,200.
The minister said legal action would be taken against any laboratory found charging more than the prescribed rates.
While the revised rates are the maximum that laboratories can charge from patients, he left it to the district collectors to negotiate with them further to reduce the cost of a Covid-19 test even more.
“The places where more testing is required, such as Pune and Mumbai, the respective collectors can negotiate and reduce the rates,” he said.
Tope had formed a four-member committee based on an ICMR directive to all states to negotiate the pricing of Covid-19 tests with authorised private laboratories. This was after India started manufacturing test kits.
The minister said test kits were still being imported when the ICMR fixed the original cost of testing for Covid-19 in private laboratories.
The committee, headed by State Health Assurance Society CEO Sudhakar Shinde, submitted a report after talks with all stakeholders. Joint director of medical education and research Ajay Chandanwale and Prof Amita Joshi of Mumbai's Grant Government Medical College and Hospital were the other members of the panel.
Tope said 95 laboratories in Maharashtra — 53 government and 42 private — were currently conducting Covid-19 tests. Four to five more are in the pipeline. As on Saturday, the state had conducted 6.24 lakh swab tests, of which 1.14 lakh tested positive — about 16.18%. Mumbai and Pune account for the maximum number of tests.