Facilitate free testing of COVID-19 in govt, private labs, SC directs Centre


New Delhi: The Supreme Court today directed that COVID-19 tests in approved government labs or private laboratories should be conducted free of cost. The apex court asked the Centre should immediately issue directions in this regard.

The SC said the private hospitals including laboratories have an important role to play in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat, which heard the matter via video conferencing, said that tests relating to COVID-19 or novel coronavirus must be carried out in the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories accredited Labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR. The bench said, it is issuing the interim directions to the respondents that the tests relating to COVID-19 whether in approved Government Laboratories or approved private Laboratories shall be free of cost. The bench also said, the respondents- Centre and other authorities- shall issue necessary direction in this regard immediately.

The SC said that even before the COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by WHO on March 11, it had spread in several countries and as of now, more than 200 countries are suffering from this pandemic.

The apex court issued directions on a PIL filed by an advocate seeking a direction to the Centre and authorities to provide free of cost testing facility for COVID-19 to all citizens in the country.

The bench in its order said no person be deprived to undergo the COVID-19 test due to non-payment of capped amount of 4,500 rupees. It noted the Centre’s submission that government laboratories are conducting the COVID-19 tests free of cost.

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