They say the tests are in demand among passengers who are travelling from other States or countries
While the State government capped the rates for the COVID-19 RT-PCR tests at ₹800 earlier this month, many laboratories and hospitals are charging three to six times the amount if people want the test results faster.
Enquiries made by The Hindu at several private labs in the city revealed that while the RT-PCR tests are available at ₹800 and the test results are given in 24 hours, if one wants the results in five to six hours, they can sign up for a special turn-around RT-PCR test and will have to pay ₹2,500. Meanwhile, the RT-PCR express test, which costs ₹5,000, will ensure that the patient gets the test result within 13 minutes.
Many customers feel that the labs are trying to fleece the customers. Labs say that the special turn-around RT-PCR test and RT PCR express tests are in demand among passengers who are travelling from other States or countries. “Those who have elderly people at home want to get themselves tested before they go back home and interact with their friends and family,” said the manager of a private lab in the city.
Dhriti S., an employee of a private company, said that she chose to get the special turn-around RT-PCR test as she had a sore throat. “I live with my mother-in-law who is a senior citizen and I wanted to rule out the possibility of having COVID-19. I gave my swab for testing for COVID-19 and isolated myself in a room. I chose to pay three times the actual price as I wanted the results quickly as I was very anxious,” she said.
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer, labs and testing, COVID-19 task force, said that while the regular RT-PCR test was capped at ₹800 by the State government, the Abott ID NOW test, which provides test results between 5 and13 minutes, was fairly new in the market and the price could not be slashed.
“The express test is useful in an emergency room where a patient is in the casualty and has to undergo a surgery or treatment,” he said. He said that if international passengers get an express test during arrival, they need to also monitor their symptoms for 14 days after their date of journey and repeat an RT-PCR if they develop any symptoms of COVID-19.