New Delhi: The Supreme Court order that all Coronavirus infection patients will be tested free of cost has got the business and health experts worrying. They are of the opinion that this will place an unfair financial burden on medical firms, which in turn, may lead to a reduction in the testing. Also Read - ‘COVID-19 Tests Must be Conducted Free of Cost in Govt, Private Labs,’ Supreme Court Tells Centre
Private medical firms are already known to be struggling financially, Reuters reported. Left without any financial assistance, they may even suffer more. Also Read - Ensure Free COVID-19 Tests in Some Private Laboratories, Supreme Court Asks Centre
“Humanitarian in intent but impractical to implement – I fear testing will plummet,” Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, executive chairperson of Biocon Limited, said in a tweet on Thursday. Also Read - Amid Lockdown, Supreme Court Issues Notice to Centre on Plea Seeking Payment of Wages to Migrant Workers
“These are small businesses they’re providing testing at cost and not profiteering. How will they pay their employees?”
Another expert also said the court’s order might impede with the Centre’s decision to widen the testing. Talking to Reuters, Shamika Ravi, a former member of the Indian Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council and health specialist said, “But the court decision threatens to derail the plan to widen testing.”
A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Ravindra Bhat said in a judgement on Wednesday, “The tests relating to COVID-19, whether in approved government laboratories or approved private laboratories, shall be free of cost. The respondents (Union of India) shall issue necessary direction in this regard immediately.”
The apex court order came on a petition filed by advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi challenging the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) advisory to fix maximum Rs 4,500 for coronavirus test by private entities.
Meanwhile, the total tally of novel coronavirus cases in India reached up to 5,734 on Thursday. As per Health Ministry data, of the total number, 5,095 are active cases, 166 are dead, one has migrated, while 472 people have been discharged after recovery.