As criticisms mounted against the new central government protocol regarding those returning to India from other countries, the Kerala government has decided to make the RT-PCR tests conducted at airports free of cost. Earlier, the Centre had announced that the people coming from other countries had to submit a Covid-free certificate taken within 72 hours of travelling, as well as submit to a molecular test when they land in India.
Various groups have criticised the Centre’s illogical protocol, seeing as how the prices of these tests are high as well as the fact that doing the same test twice within a span of two or three days doesn’t make sense. The cost factor was a prime issue with the expatriates. To those in the Middle East, it would cost around Rs 25,000 for a family of four to test for Covid-19 before booking tickets. The tickets are extra.
Upon returning home, they are subjected to the same test, which would cost around Rs 5,000 on average for the tests. Some airports are reportedly charging the passengers for the lounge service while they wait for the connecting flights. Moreover, the express RT PCR test will cost much higher than the normal rates, and this would increase the expense.
The various groups have requested the Centre to use the funds allocated for expatriate welfare and either subsidise, cancel the testing costs or do away with the “illogical” protocol. On the other hand, considering the growing costs and the economic situation, the Kerala government had done away with the costs and made the testing free for all those who are returning from other countries. The announcement regarding this was made by Health Minister KK Shailaja, who added that testing would be made strict to counter the mutated Covid-19.
On top of this, the Health Ministry has also licensed a mobile Covid-19 testing facility in Thiruvananthapuram and will extend it to other districts by March mid. While the cost of testing in a private lab would be Rs 1,700, the mobile lab would be Rs 448. The minister urged caution as the elections are approaching and there is a chance for cases in Kerala to increase.