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No, the coronavirus test isn’t free for everyone in Karachi

Government pays for people who can't afford it

SAMAA | - Posted: Mar 12, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
Posted: Mar 12, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago

Photo: Online

Many people in Karachi are confused about the coronavirus test, its cost and the criteria required to test a person.

The Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi released a statement about the test on Wednesday, which was shared with SAMAA Digital.

It reads: “COVID-19 screening is being offered at the Community Health Centre of the Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi. This is conducted by a physician for Rs1,050. If a patient meets the criteria for lab testing it is offered for Rs7,900.”

This means if someone has a fever or cold with a history of travel to a country where there’s an outbreak of COVID-19, particularly China, Italy, Iran or Afghanistan, in the last 14 days or has been in contact with a known patient they will be tested.

AKUH adds that lab tests are done free-of-cost based on a referral letter from the government.

The Sindh government is paying for people who cannot afford to pay for themselves, the health department told SAMAA Digital. A team from the deputy commissioner’s office decides who is eligible for free treatment by visiting the patient and taking their history.

If it determines a person cannot afford to pay, a referral letter will be made before screening and testing for COVID-19.

If you suspect you or someone related to you has symptoms there are government helplines you can call. For Sindh these are 021-99203443 and 021-99204405.

Health officials will guide you about the next steps. You will be connected to a doctor who will take your medical and travel history and then will be told whether you need to be tested or not.

If you need to be tested, health authorities will send an ambulance your way to take you to a hospital isolation ward. Your contacts will be traced and also tested.

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