Except in certain circumstances, members of the public will have to pay for their Covid-19 tests from October 16 onwards, the Meghalaya government informed today.
People entering the state will also have to pay for their Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and patients at corona care centres will also have to stump up for the cost of their meals there, the government said, though there will also be exceptions in these cases.
The state has taken this decision after the Union government withdrew subsidies for testing kits.
Up until now all Covid-19 tests at government health facilities were free, though people who chose to undergo tests at private hospitals would have had to pay. Any person (including Meghalaya Health Insurance Scheme cardholders) who desire to be tested with RT-PCR, CBNAAT, or TruNAT without medical advice shall be charged Rs 3,200 per test, the Health and Family Welfare notification said. This rate is applicable at both government and private hospitals.
It does not mention if the public will have to pay for a RAT, but Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong informed today that such tests will be charged at Rs 500.
The RT-PCR, CBNAAT and TruNAT tests can be availed from three private hospitals in Shillong – Nazareth Hospital, Bethany Hospital and HG Roberts Hospital. The government facilities listed are Pasteur Institute (Shillong), Nongpoh Civil Hospital, Tura Civil Hospital, Resubelpara Community Health Centre, Baghmara Civil Hospital, Williamnagar Civil Hospital, Nongstoin Civil Hospital, Khliehriat Community Health Centre, Ampati Civil Hospital, Mawkyrwat Community Health Centre and MCH Hospital (Jowai). Bookings can be made online on www.coronamegh.in but walk-ins will be accepted depending on availability of slots.
However, members of Below Poverty Line (BPL) households (yellow and pink National Food Security Act (NFSA) cardholders) may avail of tests on medical advice free of charge at government facilities. Anyone who has been identified by health authorities as a high-risk contact of a positive case, or is otherwise deemed to be in need of testing, will also continue to receive free tests. “This shall be strictly applicable to only those recommended by the District Surveillance Team,” the notification stated.
Meanwhile, inmates at corona care centres will, from October 16, have to pay for the food served to them while isolating there. Tynsong said that Deputy Commissioners have been asked to work out the rates. The Health Department notification added that members of BPL households (yellow and pink NFSA cardholders) will be exempted from payment.
Tynsong also informed that the government has also initiated the option of paid isolation at corona care centres and the Deputy Commissioners have been entrusted to convene meetings with hotel and guesthouse owners who are willing to convert their rooms to paid corona centres.
Meanwhile, the government will also start charging entrants into Meghalaya for the RATs that are administered to all people coming into the state. Rs 500 will be the amount charged and the test is mandatory for all entrants unless they possess a CBNAAT, TruNAT or RT-PCR report within 72 hours of the sample being taken.