The Delhi government on Wednesday put a cap on the rate of conventional RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 detection in private hospitals and laboratories at Rs 500, according to an order.
Rapid antigen tests at private facilities will cost Rs 300.
In a tweet, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, "Delhi government drastically reduces corona test rates. This will help the common man."
According to the order, home collection of samples and testing would cost Rs 700. Earlier, it was Rs 1,200.
At government centres and hospitals, RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests are conducted for free. In November last year, the government had capped the rate of RT-PCR tests in private hospitals and labs at Rs 800.
The health department has directed all private hospitals and laboratories to display the revised rates at a prominent place within 24 hours. It has also asked the private facilities to process samples, share reports with clients and update results on the ICMR portal within 24 hours.
On Tuesday, Delhi reported 50 COVID-19 cases and four more fatalities due to the viral disease, while the positivity rate stood at 0.08 per cent.
The national capital has reported 14,36,451 COVID-19 cases so far. A total of 14,10,874 patients have recuperated, while the death toll due to the disease stands at 25,058.
Reacting to the government order, Genestrings Diagnostics COO Chetan Kohli said lowering the cost of RT-PCR exams will play an important role in increasing the number of people undergoing the test.
"But the price cap may affect the labs'' ability to manage costs that entail kits, consumables, manpower and logistics. The older price was fair and affordable with a decent incentive for smaller labs to continue investing further in enhancing their capacity."
In hindsight, this price reduction may hurt the overall need to enhance capacity, Kohli said.
"Now, we may have to explore suppliers who are providing kits at a lower cost to ensure the margins are enough to sustain the back-end workforce required to ensure adherence to the mandate -- sample collection, testing, and reporting and data upload within 24 hours," he said.