Africa-Press – Botswana. Following the announcement that leading medical laboratories Diagnofirm would suspend conducting coronavirus (COVID-19) tests, the government has moved to conduct tests for a fee for those travelling outside the country.
“The government has decided that all those travelling outside the country should pay P500 before they get tested at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital while clinics will continue testing contacts and those with COVID-19 symptoms,” the source said.
According to the source, the move was made swiftly as clinics were now experiencing high numbers of people wanting to test to travel for various reasons. This is said to have been creating problems as it would now mean results take longer and this would slow down the fight against the virus, especially with contact tracing.
The Essential Supplies and Services (COVID-19 Test) Regulations, 2020, Published December 11, 2020, stipulate that a testing centre shall not charge a fee over P500 for a COVID-19 test, including a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. This led to Diagnofirm that had been charging P999.60 suspending their testing services stating that it was costly for them.
person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of these regulations shall be guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P10,000.
“We advise that the cost price to Diagnofirm of a PCR test exceeds the maximum amount currently permitted by the regulations. As such, in these circumstances, Diagnofirm regrettably can no longer offer its facilities for the conduct of PCR testing until further notice,” a statement from Diagnofirm reads.
Diagnofirm director Mohammed Chand said they were disappointed that the move was made without consulting them as service providers. He said they made about 200 tests daily on average. Chand said they had expressed their concerns to government and are waiting for word on the way forward.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Kabelo Ebineng would not field questions from The Monitor stating that they would release a statement.