New Delhi, May 27: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Wednesday directed the States/UTs on strategy for COVID-19 testing and firming up price for real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test through private labs in the country. The ICMR removed the price cap of Rs 4,500 for the RT-PCR test that is used to detect coronavirus and asked the states and UTs to negotiate with private labs to fix "mutually agreeable" rates for the test. "Earlier suggested upper ceiling for Rs 4,500 may not be applicable now & all state govts/UTs to negotiate with pvt labs & fix mutually agreeable prices for testing", the ICMR stated in its order. COVID-19 Tally in India Cross 1.5 Lakh-Mark With 6,387 New Cases in Past 24 Hours, Death Toll Rises to 4,337.

With the new decision, the States and UTs will be free to negotiate with the approved list of private laboratories and fix the COVID-19 testing cost mutually. The private labs have claimed that the Rs 4,500 price cap for COVID -19 test is the major reason behind low testing. In India, there are 428 government and 182 private labs for COVID-19 testing across all states and UTs. There are 428 government and 182 private labs for COVID-19 testing across all states and UTs in the country.

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ICMR Director General (D-G) Dr Balram Bhargava in a letter to the state chief secretaries on Monday, said the COVID-19 diagnostic supplies are stabilising because of the indigenous production of the kits. He said at the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic there was a global crisis of testing kits and India was dependent on imported products for testing. However, now such kits are procured from the local market. "Keeping in view the cost of imported kits and efforts involved in carrying out the test, the ICMR suggested the upper limit of a single test at Rs 4500," the letter said.

In March, the ICMR had suggested Rs 4,500 price cap for private labs testing the coronavirus. Private laboratories had been repeatedly saying that with the Rs 4,500 upper ceiling, they have not been able to recover expenses. In India, the ICMR has so far tested a total of 32,42,160 samples as on May 27 2020.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on May 27, 2020 10:29 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website