NEW DELHI: The government on Saturday notified norms under which private diagnostic labs accredited by the National Accreditation Board for testing and calibration laboratories will be allowed to carry out tests for coronavirus fixing an upper cap of Rs 4,500 per test.
"The national task force recommends that the maximum cost for testing sample should not exceed Rs 4,500. This may include Rs 1,500 as a screening test for suspect cases and an additional Rs 3,000 for confirmation test," the notification said.
However, the notification said that the Indian Council for Medical Research encourages free or subsidized testing in this hour of national public health emergency. The move will enable around 40 private labs to test for the infection across the country. At present nearly public sector 110 labs under the ICMR and government are equipped to test for the infection.
The guidelines by the ICMR that were notified by the Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare also said that all samples from suspected patients should preferably be collected from home by labs that have NABL accreditation for real time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assay for RNA virus.
The government also laid down rules for reporting and sample storage and destruction emphasizing that every positive sample should be sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune following strict bio-safety and biosecurity precautions.
The ministry has also made it clear that labs can only test people as per the testing protocol laid down by the ICMR.
As of now, the ICMR is allowing symptomatic people with international travel history, their close contacts with symptoms, health workers treating COVID 19 patients with symptoms and asymptomatic persons who have been close contacts of infected patients to get tested within 5-14 days of last contact. However, the government has been constantly revising the testing protocol as per the changing scenario.
The notification also said that any individual can get the test done only on prescription of a registered doctor, by providing government ID proof with address and contact details and in case of a positive result, the details have to be shared with the ICMR and the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme immediately.
It also added that commercial kits for real time PCR based diagnosis of COVID-19 should be USA FDA approved or European CE certified.