The Delhi government on Monday reduced the fixed cost of RT-PCR or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test for the coronavirus at private laboratories from Rs 2,400 to Rs 800. While coronavirus tests at government facilities are free, people had to pay up to Rs 2,400 to get examined at private laboratories.

The cost of the test was slashed after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s order. “I have directed that the rates of RT PCR tests be reduced in Delhi,” he tweeted. “Whereas tests are being conducted free of cost in govt [government] establishments, however this will help those who get their tests done in pvt [private] labs.”

Delhi reported 4,906 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, which took its tally to 5,66,648. The Capital’s toll rose by 68 to 9,066. The Capital witnessed a regular surge in coronavirus cases earlier this month, amid rising pollution and the intensifying cold. On November 11, Delhi registered its biggest one-day rise of 8,593 daily cases.

At a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 24, Kejriwal had said that the Capital’s third wave of coronavirus cases was severe due to air pollution and other factors, but that the cases and positivity rate were steadily reducing since November 11.

The Delhi government had capped the cost of RT-PCR tests at Rs 2,400 in June. The Indian Council of Medical Research had in May removed the Rs 4,500 cap on testing, allowing the states to fix their own rates. The Gujarat government capped the rate of testing in private laboratories in the state at Rs 3,000 in June. Maharashtra had, in June, lowered the testing prices in private labs from Rs 4,500 to Rs 2,200

On April 8, the Supreme Court of India directed the central government to make testing for the novel coronavirus disease free of cost at approved private laboratories. On April 13, the court amended its order and ruled that free tests in private labs would only be for people covered by the government’s flagship healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat, and any other category of economically weaker sections of the society as notified by the government.

India’s coronavirus count rose to rose to 94,31,692 on Monday morning as it reported 38,772 new cases in 24 hours. The toll rose by 443 to 1,37,139. India now has 4,46,952 active cases and over 88 lakh recoveries.

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