After rate cap, private labs temporarily halt RT-PCR testing in Kashmir

Strict action against those violating order: Officials

Irfan Tramboo

Srinagar, June 3: With the Government setting the prices for the RT-PCR test for private testing labs in J&K, several labs operating in Kashmir have temporarily stopped the testing which has resulted in hassles to people.
The UT Administration earlier issued an order capping the price of the RT-PCR test at Rs 400. However, the testing labs have expressed their unwillingness to carry out the test stating that the prices are too low for them.
Excelsior called up many collection centres of various labs in Kashmir about the RT-PRC tests; however, they informed that they have temporarily discontinued carrying out the test for now.
The operators of several labs told Excelsior that the price set up is not viable for them and the decision of capping the price has been taken without taking the stakeholders on board.
“Rs 400 is a good price for the labs that are processing bulk samples at a one given time; the price is fine for them, but for those who are doing it on a nominal level, it’s hard for them,” they said.
Notably, people are also facing issues due to the temporary suspension of the testing facilities at these labs across Kashmir. “I have been calling these labs since morning, but they said that they are not doing the test as of now,” said Yasir Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar.
Interestingly, during the day, the lab operators brought the issue to the notice of the officials in the district who have asked them to charge Rs 400 plus charges of home collection.
“We met with some officials of the district administration and they fine with home collection charges but the rate will continue to remain Rs 400 per day,” the lab operators said, adding that things will become clear in a day or two.
Also, the District Administration is mulling legal action against those who are found violating the Government orders concerning the RTPCR test. “It is a Government order and they cannot violate it neither can they discontinue testing,” an official said.
The spokesman of the Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Mir Mushtaq, said that if they have any grievances, they can bring the same to the notice of the Government.
“The private labs have been doing their bit in the pandemic and if they now have any issues with the capping of rates for the RTPCR test, they should bring the same into the notice of the Government and also they should not discontinue the testing even if temporarily,” he said.
It is to be noted here that there are other labs as well that are operating in Kashmir and are carrying out Truenat RT-PCR which costs around Rs 1800 and has not been covered in the rates that were issued by the Government.