Mumbai: Rise in swine flu cases sees demand to cut lab test rates

Times of India | 1 week ago | 06-08-2022 | 05:02 am

Mumbai: Rise in swine flu cases sees demand to cut lab test rates

MUMBAI: With the demand for influenza H1N1 tests rising, there is also a growing clamour to regulate the test prices. A single test of H1N1 (formerly called swine flu) costs between Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000 in the city, putting an enormous burden on families where more than one person has to undergo the test. TOI has learnt that a few officials also raised the issue of regulating prices for H1N1 testing in front of the current state government, but it failed to get a desirable response. In the absence of a health minister, the matter didn't even get sanction for a review. "With limited public facilities offering the test in the city, there should be some move towards restricting the test prices for H1N1," said a senior state official, who didn't wish to be named. Bandra resident S Narang shelled out Rs 10,000 to get himself and his niece tested for the disease. After testing negative for Covid-19, the doctor advised they take the H1N1 test to understand what was behind the fever, vomiting, shivering and throat irritation they suffered for days. The niece tested positive for both - H1N1 and Covid-19. "After the test confirmed H1N1, our doctor could put 10 people in my home and workplace on preventive treatment," Narang said, adding that the government must reduce cost of testing. H1N1 cases have seen a marked increase this year. From two confirmed cases in June, the count of H1N1 infections rose to 105 in July. In 2021, there were 21 confirmed cases, showing that the rise this July is nearly five-fold. A state official told TOI that when H1N1 emerged in 2009, testing cost around Rs 5,000. But, as more laboratories offered it, the cost decreased. In 2015, when a nationwide surge in H1N1 was seen, the Director General of Health Services had told states that they shouldn't let test rates exceed Rs 2,500. "Yet, labs are back to charging exorbitantly," the official said. However, laboratories insist that the cost of reagents, kits and workforce doesn't allow them to offer it at a lower price. "The Covid test rates dropped from Rs 4,500 to Rs 500 as cost of reagents and other items was capped too," said the head of a laboratory. Dr Ulhas Vaidya of Vaidya Labs said a rise in demand would pull down In the public set-up, Kasturba Hospital offers free tests, but only patients with severe symptoms with breathlessness, hypotension, discolouration of nails qualify for testing.

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The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 12-08-2022 | 11:45 am
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Why are swine flu & seasonal influenza spiralling? How do you know Covid-19 from seasonal flu?