With increasing complaints from passengers about airport testing facilities charging exorbitant pricing for Rapid RT-PCR test, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has directed the Department of Health and Family Welfare of the state to take necessary measures to keep the testing charges affordable for passengers. The direction was issued during the COVID-19 review meeting held on Friday.
The complaints about testing facilities overpricing RT-PCR tests have come up from various corners of the state, including a Congress leader from Thrissur district, who submitted a formal complaint to PM’s office regarding the situation at Cochin International Airport. When RT-PCR was originally priced at Rs 500 across the state, the facility at Cochin International Airport charged four times the amount for the test, looting the public, the leader cited in his complaint. The state government has notified the secretary to address the matter.
Private medical facilities are given contracts to conduct RT-PCR tests at airports. According to the current pricing, RT-PCR testing at Cochin International Airport is Rs 2,490, while the cost at Calicut International Airport stands at Rs 1,350. Similar differences in pricing are also found at Kannur and Trivandrum airports.
Kochi airport handles around 100 flights per week, with a minimum of 200 passengers on each flight. The current pricing shows the amount of profit made by the medical facilities at the airport. The passengers are forced to take RT-PCR tests within the airport, even if the test is available for cheaper costs outside. The state’s intervention would be a huge relief to the passengers. Department of Health has not announced any steps it bounds to take to control the situation. However, the same is expected in the coming weeks.
As a part of increasing the vigil in the wake of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, all airport facilities had increased their COVID-19 testing facilities. Cochin airport facilitates nearly 700 COVID-19 tests in one hour.
COVID-19 guideline for international passengers coming to Kerala
With the number of cases reducing, the government has slightly relaxed COVID-19 guidelines for air passengers arriving in Kerala. Currently, only those NRIs and international passengers with symptoms coming to the state will be tested for COVID-19 testing. Irrespective of the duration of stay in the state, all international passengers need to undergo self-symptom surveillance for seven days. If any symptoms appear, they are advised to undertake the test. Random testing of 2% among international travellers are conducted by the flights free of cost.