In a massive development, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), on Monday, has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court on the court-ordered free COVID-19 tests by private labs. ICMR has asked the Supreme Court to discontinue its April 8 directive, ordering all private and government labs to conduct free testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19) for all patients. Currently, India has 9152 cases with 308 deaths.
On Wednesday, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat ruled in an interim order that the testing relating to COVID-19 whether in approved government or private labs shall be free of cost, while hearing a plea filed by lawyer Shashank Deo Sudhi. Moreover, the bench also directed that COVID-19 related tests should be carried out only in NABL accredited laboratories or any agencies approved by the WHO or ICMR. Meanwhile, the Centre has been given two week's time to file an affidavit in reply.
Currently, testing for Coronavirus is done in 219 labs throughout the nation - 151 Govt & 68 Pvt. As of Sunday, 186906 samples tested, of which 7953 tested positive. The Centre revealed that 15757 samples tested on an average per day, with 548 testing positive on an average.
On March 21, the Centre notified the guidelines laid down by the ICMR for COVID-19 testing in private laboratories in the country. It has been stressed that private labs can charge only Rs.1,500 for the screening of suspect cases and Rs.3000 for the confirmation test. While ICMR has encouraged private labs to go for free or subsidized testing, government labs are testing for free.
As of date, 7987 active cases have been reported of the pandemic Coronavirus (COVID-19) - 856 have been discharged and Maharashtra reported the highest at 1985. 308 deaths have been reported till date. India has suspended all visas and barred travel from Afghanistan, Philippines, EU, UK, China, Malaysia and mandatory 14-day quarantine from several other countries. The Prime Minister has issued a 21-day countrywide lockdown starting from 23 March to April 15 and the Finance Minister has announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore package under the 'PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme'. With the rise in the number of cases, five states -Odisha, Punjab, Maharashtra have extended their state's lockdown till April 30.