The Ministry of Health and Population has issued a 24-hour ultimatum to private hospitals and laboratories to adjust the fee for PCR test to Rs 2,000 per test.

The Ministry has also warned that it will scrap the permit given to private hospitals and labs to conduct the test for COVID-19 infection if they fail to comply with the ultimatum.

Eight private hospitals and laboratories, including HAMS Hospital, Star Hospital, B&B Hospital and Nepal Mediciti Hospital, had issued a press statement on September 27 saying that they cannot comply with the rate ceiling of Rs 2,000 fixed by the government and would charge Rs 3,899 for each PCR test.

Earlier on September 14, the government had decided to decrease the fee for PCR test to Rs 2,000 from Rs 4,400 after which the Health Emergency Operation Centre issued a directive to all the laboratories conducting PCR test to comply with the decision.

Before that, On August 31, the government had slashed the fee for PCR tests to Rs 4,400 from Rs 5,500.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population, Jageshwor Gautam, said that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Department of Commerce, Supply and Consumer Protection Management will be directing the National Public Health Laboratory to take action against the erring labs and hospitals on the charge of black marketing if they fail to meet the 24-hour ultimatum.

As per the press statement released earlier by the eight private hospitals and labs, they cannot conduct PCR tests at Rs 2,000 as the fee fixed by the government was not reasonable. Private health institutions have to bear additional costs, which government hospitals don’t have to, the statement read.

Besides the said eight Kathmandu-based private hospitals and labs, Intrepid Diagnostic Centre; Decode Genomics and Research Centre; Central Diagnostic Laboratory and Research Centre; and Saurya Healthcare Private Ltd are charging Rs 3,899 per test.