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Private firms not in a position to offer coronavirus tests for free: Metropolis

Updated : March 24, 2020 01:23 PM IST

It is difficult for private companies to offer coronavirus tests for free as they are not "sitting on thousands of crore of cash to be able to do this", Ameera Shah, managing director of Metropolis Healthcare, said on Tuesday.

Select private labs, including Metropolis, have got the approval to conduct coronavirus tests.

More than 490 people have been infected in India so far and nine have already been killed by the deadly virus. The government has suggested home visits to conduct the tests in order to minimise further spread of the virus.

“The government has suggested that we do these for home visits as there are chances of infections as patients comes to centres. We have already ended up booking a lot of home visits,” said Shah in an interaction with CNBC-TV18.

On providing COVID-19 tests for free, Shah said, “If we were in a normal situation where all our normal revenues and profits were coming in, we would have all been very happy to offer this free, but unfortunately as you can understand everything has shut down, it is going to be hard to be able to do this free of cost because that means you have to be sitting on thousands of crore of cash to be able to do this free."

Shah added that the biggest challenge for them was the movement of their employees. The MD further said that more supplies and machines will be required if testing had to be increased.

"In Mumbai, some of our employees have been beaten by police personnel," said Shah, adding that the government should inform authorities about the smooth commute of essential staff.

According to Shah, employees have had to sell Metropolis shares due to margin calls. "Haven’t seen any exit from large institutional investors," the MD added.
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