NRIs returning to Kerala will get free Covid test, says health minister KK Shailaja

5 months ago 9

NRI associations said Centre's new SOP for foreign returnees which mandates for NRIs to carry a negative Covid certificate and get re-tested at the airport upon arrival is "unnecessary".

[REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE] File photo of a mobile Covid-19 test collection centre

[REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE] File photo of a mobile Covid-19 test collection centre (Photo Credits: PTI)

HIGHLIGHTS

NRI associations had said that Centre's new SOP for foreign returnees was unnecessaryKK Shailaja appealed to the people to be extra vigilant to prevent further spread of Covid-19Mobile labs in Kerala charge Rs 448 for Covid-19 test, said the health minister

Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said in a press briefing on Friday that people who travelling to the state from overseas will be provided with a free Covid-19 test. Just recently, the central government finalized a new SOP for foreign returnees, including a mandatory Covid-19 (RT-PCR) test at the airport at their own expense.

The NRI associations had pointed out that the Centre's new rule will pose a huge problem for financially distressed people who are returning to the country after losing their jobs or visiting for medical treatments and so on.

As per the new guidelines, foreign returnees regardless of age should be tested and certified as Covid-negative less than 72 hours prior to their arrival.

That a person coming from overseas should have a negative Covid-19 certificate and get re-tested at the airport at one's own expense is unnecessary, the NRI associations remarked. They went on to say it is unacceptable because most airports abroad are providing free Covid-19 tests.

Expatriate associations had earlier demanded that the government should find an immediate solution to this problem.

Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said the Covid-19 test is mandatory for all foreign returnees entering the state. We have scientifically defended Covid-19 but the spread of the virus is likely to increase in the state, she added.

Stating that the Kerala government is increasing its testing rate, the health minister appealed to the people to be extra vigilant to prevent further spread of Covid-19.

Minister Shailaja went on to say that mobile RT-PCR testing labs in the state will be operational from February 27 onwards. The charge for the Covid-19 test is only Rs 448 and the government has also decided to cancel the licenses of laboratories if they do not provide test results within 24 hours.

Mobile labs have been set up in the state as part of maximizing the number of RT-PCR tests, considered the gold-standard of Covid-19 testing.

Private labs in Kerala are charging Rs 1,700 for RT-PCR tests while mobile labs charge only Rs 448, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja added.

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