The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the government to ensure free testing for coronavirus at both government and private labs. The testing is currently capped at Rs 4,500 in private labs. The tests should be conducted in the NABL-accredited labs or agencies approved by the WHO or ICMR, the Supreme Court added. "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," the Supreme Court also said. The apex court had asked the Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta to not allow the private labs in the country to charge a high amount for the tests.
The Supreme Court issued the order on public interest litigation (PIL) for free testing of coronavirus. The petitioner had said that the tests are being conducted at higher prices in private labs. "It is extremely difficult for the common citizen to get himself/herself tested in the government hospital /labs and being no alternative in the sight, the people are constrained to pay the capped amount to the private hospital/labs for protecting their lives," it said. "118 labs were doing 15,000 test capacity per day. We are now looking at involving 47 private laboratory chains. It's a developing situation. We don't know how many will be needed, how long lockdown will continue," the Solicitor General told the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the total number of coronavirus cases in India stands at 5,274 on Wednesday. The number of active cases is 4,714 in India, according to the latest data on the Ministry of Health website. The number of coronavirus deaths is 149. Total cured or discharged are 410 and one migrated, the data also showed. Maharashtra has the highest number of cases among all states, with 1,018 confirmed coronavirus cases and 79 cured or discharged. 64 people have died in the state so far.