Rajesh Tope and Amit Deshmukh quarrel over faulty RT-PCR test kits

Differences surfaced between Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope and the Minister of Medical Education Amit Deshmukh on the supply of faulty RT-PCR test kits in the state amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

As many as 12 lakh RT-PCR kits required for testing were found to be faulty. Health Minister Rajesh Tope had pointed the finger at the Medical Education Department. He further clarified that the Public Health Ministry had no role in the procurement of these test kits.

However, Deshmukh has countered Tope’s statement, saying that the latter was not aware of the facts at the ground level. He, however, said he will meet Tope to clear the misunderstanding.

The state has received RT-PCR test kits from a supplier designated by the central government's ICMR. However, these kits have turned out to be defective. “After it was found that these kits were defective, the Department of Medical Education stopped its supply,” said Deshmukh.

According to Deshmukh, ICMR will continue to supply these test kits till further arrangements are made. A committee has been appointed to procure test kits and action will be taken against the culprits soon after the report is received, said Deshmukh.

Meanwhile, Tope said the government will cap the rate of RT-PCR test in private laboratories at Rs 800 from the present level of Rs 1,200. “There are in all 500 laboratories, comprising 400 government and 100 private laboratories who conduct RT-PCR tests. These tests are free in government laboratories, but private labs currently charge Rs 1,200 per test, which will now be brought down to Rs 800 per patient. The government will soon issue a notification,” he noted.

Tope recalled that the state government also proposes to cap the rates of N-95 masks which are available in the market at Rs 150 to Rs 200 against its production cost of Rs 12. “The government is of the view that it should be sold at Rs 19. The department has already set up a committee to recommend on capping the rates of N-95 masks,” he said.

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