The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to consider reimbursing private medical labs for COVID-19 tests to make it free for the public. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the government will study the feasibility of the apex court’s suggestions.
The bench, comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat, was hearing a plea which challenged the Centre’s advisory to fix charges for COVID-19 tests at private labs and hospitals at Rs 4500. Mehta said 15,000 tests were being done by 118 labs, but this was not sufficient. ‘So private labs had to be roped in,’ he said, adding the government has involved 47 private laboratory chains so far.
In another case related to reports about salary cut of doctors and staff at government hospitals in some states, Mehta said there would be no pay cut for health staff. ‘We will be writing a letter to all states that no salary of any government doctor or staff should be deducted. No deduction from salary to buy masks and PPEs,’ Mehta said, adding ‘the police and government will be walking the extra mile to protect doctors.’
The plea, filed by Nagpur-based doctor Jerryl Banait, sought availability of head cover, face shield, medical masks, shower cover among others for doctors in tier 2 and tier 3 cities along with metro cities.