Govt mulls reducing testing cost at Srinagar Airport

The move from the government to work towards reduction of the testing rate comes on the day this newspaper published a story about how overseas passengers were being overcharged for COVID testing at the airport.
Govt mulls reducing testing cost at Srinagar Airport
Health workers check temperature of passengers at Srinagar airport. File/ANI

Srinagar: After public outcry regarding costly Rapid RT-PCR facility at the Srinagar International Airport, Jammu and Kashmir Government has sought “competitive rates” from the private labs operating from the Aerodrome area to decrease the burden on the pockets of those who wish to get tested at the airport premises instead of proceeding to quarantine centers.

The move from the government to work towards reduction of the testing rate comes on the day this newspaper published a story about how overseas passengers were being overcharged for COVID testing at the airport.

It may be mentioned that passengers arriving at Srinagar International Airport can proceed home without the need to quarantine with the availability of a fast-tracked private RT-PCR facility set up at the Airport which started operating from Saturday.

On Sunday, five passengers got tested on Rapid RT-PCR and were able to leave the Airport for their homes without the need to wait at the quarantine centers awaiting test reports, usually available within 24 hours. However, for each test, the passengers were charged Rs 4000, a cost that has come as a shock for most people arriving at Srinagar. The price of rapid RT-PCR ranges between 2900 to 3500 at other airports of the country.

Additional Chief Secretary to J&K Government (Heath and Medical Education) Vivek Bhardwaj, while speaking to Greater Kashmir today said that it was the endeavor of the government to ensure hassle free arrival of passengers and safety of J&K from the threat of new variants. “We totally understand that many people, after they arrive here, would want to proceed home rather than to quarantine centers. Many passengers are elderly, many have little children,” he said. He said in order to help these passengers, who do not wish to quarantine in hotels or Government accommodations, a fast RT-PCR facility at competitive rates was being explored.

“We have many private Labs doing RT-PCR here and we have asked them to provide the best rates, comparable to that of Gujarat,” he said. The ACS said that the Government had sought “best offers” regarding the rates of RT-PCR tests with the private labs in order to help the passengers have an economical and fast testing facility. “These labs can give test reports in 3 to 4 hours, and there is no need to proceed for quarantine while awaiting results,” Bhardwaj said.

Currently, the samples from the Airport are being tested at SKIMS Soura and the test reports take upto 24 hours due to the bulk of testing. From December 1 till now, 287 people have been put under quarantine from the Airport, most of those allowed to proceed home now. The RT-PCR testing and quarantine pending test reports was mandated by the government for all passengers with history of travel to outside the country during two weeks preceding arrival at the airport.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Syed Haneef Balkhi said only one passenger arriving from abroad has tested positive while reports of 43 samples were awaited Sunday evening. On Sunday, he said, 43 people had been put under quarantine and were currently at various Government and private facilities in Srinagar. “The passengers usually need to wait a night before their reports are available,” he said, adding that the Government was closely monitoring the quarantine facilities and ensuring basic amenities and safety.

Greater Kashmir
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