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How to avail COVID-19 Test for Free of Cost in India

Team AckoMay 13, 2024

Testing for COVID-19 is performed to assess if you have contracted the novel Coronavirus which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Laboratory tests can classify and determine the virus that causes the novel Coronavirus in respiratory specimens. In response to the pandemic, the Government of India has decided to make testing and treatment for COVID-19 free at government-designated laboratories.



The Importance of Timely Testing for COVID-19  

Getting tested at the right time is so important for a number of reasons. Firstly, we can identify infected people early on and ensure they isolate themselves at home so they don't unknowingly spread it to others. We also want to trace all the contacts an infected person recently met with so we can test them too. This helps us get ahead of the virus.

Now, depending on someone's test results, doctors can decide how best to move forward with treatment options. Understandably, healthcare will differ for patients who test positive versus those who test negative. 

Widespread timely testing also gives governments and health authorities a good picture of how prevalent the virus currently is. That informs smarter policy decisions on things like lockdowns, border closings, etc. Nobody wants full lockdowns, so knowing true infection rates helps a lot.

How to Get Free COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Test in India:

To strengthen its resolve against the spread of the virus, the government of India has made testing of novel Coronavirus free at government-approved laboratories all over India and not at private laboratories or hospitals. While it is important to get yourself tested if you have contracted it, not everyone should test since the disease is primarily reportedly found in those with travel history to the affected countries or close contacts with positive cases.

That said if you have symptoms such as cough, fever or difficulty in breathing immediately call the Coronavirus Helpline Numbers for queries or support. You can avail free COVID-19 test by following the below steps:

  • Step 1: Call the COVID-19 helpline number: +91-11-23978046 or 1075 (Toll-Free) and report your symptoms.

  • Step 2: If you qualify as a case for COVID-19 testing as per the protocol, then you will be tested at a government-approved lab only.

  • Step 3: You can avail free of cost COVID-19 tests at laboratories designated by the Government of India; however, if you wish to test and treat yourself in a private hospital, you will have to bear the cost of Coronavirus test.

Also, read: How To Boost Immunity To Fight Coronavirus Via Ayurveda

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Testing Cost at Private Labs:

For those who are not looking to avail COVID-19 tests at the government-designated labs, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for COVID-19 has issued guidelines for testing in private labs in India. The private labs will test only when prescribed by a qualified physician per the ICMR guidelines.

Cost of Novel Coronavirus Test:

The ICMR has set up a COVID-19 task force which has recommended that the maximum cost for the testing sample should not be more than Rs.4,500. This includes screening tests for suspect cases and confirmation tests. The ICMR has also encouraged private labs to offer free or subsidized COVID-19 testing in this hour of national emergency. It also said that these guidelines will be amended from time to time.

Also read: Benefits of ABHA card

COVID-19 Tests and Treatment Free Under Ayushman Bharat Yojana:

In an effort to embolden its approach to contain the spread of the deadly novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, the Indian Government has decided to make the testing and treatment for COVID-19 free under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY). Beneficiaries of the Centre’s health assurance scheme will have access to free testing in private labs and access to treatment for COVID-19 at government empanelled hospitals.

Through this initiative, the Government of India has made healthcare accessible to the poor and the underprivileged in the country. Responding to the pandemic, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has issued a notification to all health insurance providers in the country to cover the hospitalization and treatment of COVID-19.

Preventive Measures to Avoid COVID-19

  • The best way to deal with COVID is to avoid getting infected in the first place. Fully vaccinated, including booster shots, protects against severe illness. Needles may not be fun, but a quick prick is worth it.

  • Social distancing is still important, even for vaccinated people. Maintain at least 2 arm's distance from others when in public, avoid crowds, take stairs instead of packed elevators, etc. It may feel awkward, but it really cuts down on risk.

  • Properly worn masks are also great preventers - just ensure they fit snugly over the nose and mouth. Upgrade to N95s or other high-filtration masks if possible. Long hours in masks can be tiring, but it is important to push through.

  • When socializing, choose outdoor spaces with good airflow. Crowded indoor areas with poor ventilation make it easier for viral particles to concentrate and infect someone. Meet friends for picnics at the park instead of crowded pubs or cafes.

  • Make washing hands properly a habit - use soap and lather up for 20 full seconds, rinse under running water, and dry off with a clean towel. Count off 20 seconds in one's head while soaping.

  • Keep hand sanitiser with 60% alcohol or handier when soap and water aren't available. However, remember that sanitisers don't remove ALL germs like thorough hand washing.  

Life After COVID-19: Recovery and Post-COVID Care  

If you do get infected and have to isolate yourself at home, be sure to follow your doctor's guidance closely regarding medications, periods of rest, etc, needed for recovery. Pushing yourself too hard too early can really set you back. Listen to your body and take it easy.

Perform some gentle breathing exercises if you have lingering coughs or chest discomfort after the infection starts clearing up. Things like pursed lip breathing, belly breathing, etc., can provide relief and help strengthen your lungs again.

Many people experience brain fog, extreme fatigue or mental health issues like anxiety or depression after COVID. Don't hesitate to see a counselor or therapist if you are struggling with emotions. There's no shame in needing help.

If fatigue, headaches, or other symptoms persist long after the initial infection, consult your doctor about post-COVID care options. Pacing your return to normal levels of activity and not overexerting yourself is important.

Lastly, support your recovery by eating nutritious foods high in vitamins/minerals and staying properly hydrated. Your body has gone through so much and needs the right fuel.

Also, read: Ways To Remain Healthy During Social Distancing

FAQs About COVID-19 Testing and Treatment:

Below are some of the frequently asked questions about testing and treatment of the Novel Coronavirus:

How to get tested for COVID-19 for free?


If it is found as per the protocol that you are being tested for the Novel Coronavirus, then you will be tested only at government-designated labs for free of cost. Also, beneficiaries under the PM-JAY will get free testing and treatment at government-approved hospitals.

What is the cost of the novel Coronavirus test in a private lab?


Those who like to be tested in private labs, the ICMR has issued a guideline for the novel Coronavirus testing that the maximum cost is capped at Rs.4,500. This includes the 1st screening test which costs Rs.1,500 and the 2nd confirmation test which costs Rs.3,000.

Does PMJAY Scheme cover COVID-19?


Yes, treatment of novel Coronavirus can be availed free of cost by beneficiaries of the PMJAY scheme.

How to avail free treatment for COVID-19 under the PMJAY?


Upon testing positive for the novel Coronavirus, you need to get yourself admitted at one of the PMJAY empanelled hospitals and avail free treatment upon submitting your PMJAY ecard.

Is test charges for COVID-19 covered under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana scheme?


Yes, the test charges are covered under the Centre’s health assurance scheme PMJAY.

How much time does it take to get the COVID 19 test reports?


Test results of COVID-19 are generally made available within a few hours to 48 hours. There are several government-approved private labs which claim to provide the results in 24hours.

Explore More:

Coronavirus Cases in India Cross The 7-lakh Mark


– July 7, 2020

As per data available on Tuesday, 7 July 2020, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has exceeded 7,00,000. The number of deaths associated with the virus has gone beyond 20,000. The total cases are 7,19,665 and the deaths are 20,160. Now, the nation has witnessed more than 20,000 cases in a day for five consecutive days. But there has been an increase in the number of recoveries as well. The number of COVID-19-cured patients is 4,39,947. India’s rate of recovery stands at 61 per cent. The past 24 hours reported more than 15,500 recoveries. The number of active COVID-19 cases in India is 2,59,557. India has become the third worst-affected COVID-19 country with respect to the number of cases by surpassing Russia earlier this week. Confirmed cases in the United States of America are 29,92,350 and in Brazil are 16,26,071.

Finance Ministry Report States India Has Flattened the COVID-19 Curve


– July 6, 2020

In the macroeconomic report for June 2020, the Indian Finance Ministry has mentioned that the COVID-19 curve in the country has flattened to an extent. One of the reasons for such flattening is said to be the early containment measures undertaken by the Centre and the State Governments. The report has used the term ‘green shoots’ to describe revival in the economy for May and June. The indicators for such revival have been mentioned as consumption of fuel and electricity, movement of goods throughout the country, and growth in financial transactions in the retail sector. Other points include an increase in e-way bills, railway freight and collection of tolls along with other indicators. However, the report also mentioned that compared to previous year levels, the numbers were less. The report has come on a day when the total number of COVID-19 cases in India has gone beyond 7 lakhs.

COVID-19: India’s Covaxin Gets Nod for Human Trials in the Country


– July 1, 2020

Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has developed a vaccine for the deadly novel coronavirus in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV) – Covaxin. The vaccine has got approval for human trials. The virus strain was isolated by NIV and then was transferred to Bharat Biotech to develop the vaccine. After the company submitted the results from preclinical studies, immune response and demonstrating safety, it was granted approval to conduct human trials in Phases 1 and 2. The trails are expected to begin in July this year. The development of the vaccine was accelerated through national regulatory protocols and the results have been encouraging and show high levels of safety and efficacy.

Madhya Pradesh Government Announces ‘Kill Corona’ Campaign


– June 30, 2020

The Madhya Pradesh Government has announced the ‘Kill Corona’ campaign that will begin from the first of July. The campaign involves screening all households in Madhya Pradesh in a fortnight. The ‘Kill Corona’ campaign will begin from Madhya Pradesh’s capital, Bhopal. Survey Teams have been created for screening the population and they will also ask about diseases such as Dengue and upload the same on the Sarthak application. Malaria and Diarrhoea are also a part of the list of diseases. The state’s population is around eight crores. The door-to-door campaign aims to cover the entire state including urban and rural areas. Information related to vector-borne diseases will also be asked to provide immediate treatment to those who are affected. To ensure that the campaign is a success, 10,000 teams will cover the state. A single team is expected to cover 100 households in a day.

COVID-19: Interactive Health Portal Launched in Kerala


– May 11, 2020

In an effort to provide complete information about the varied activities initiated by the government to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19 in the state, the Kerala government has launched an interactive health portal. It was launched by the State Health Minister and announced that the portal will be available to the public at all times. It offers details through an interactive dashboard about the primary indicators of the virus. The portal also has a section called “Fish Tank” to involve school children. It also offers the number of patients under isolation and will have a chatbot to interact with people.

Centre Confirms That Hyderabad Has Enough Coronavirus Testing Kits


– May 4, 2020

The central government has confirmed that there are enough coronavirus testing kits in Hyderabad. The team from the Centre toured the city and informed the central government that there are adequate testing kits available for testing, facilities and PPEs are in place to check the spread of the novel coronavirus in the city. Apart from tracking, the state government is capable of testing patients for COVID-19 and discharging them after following quarantine measures.

1 Million Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tests Conducted By India


– May 3, 2020

India completed 1 million tests to ascertain people infected with the deadly COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This was confirmed when the country witnessed the sharpest ever increase in COVID-19 positive cases. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been attempting to increase testing and the 1 million tests is a milestone by the ICMR. The real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests are found to be more effective in determining if the person has contracted COVID-19 and the 1 million tests is indeed a major milestone in the country’s fight against the spread of the virus.

COVID-19: Govt. Warns Against Purchase of Hydroxychloroquine Without Prescription


– April 21, 2020

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) through their Twitter handle issued an advisory stating that hydroxychloroquine is a prescription medicine and should be purchased only with a prescription. The sale and prescription of hydroxychloroquine are totally prohibited without a doctor’s prescription. The ministry also said that people should not consume any medicine without a prescription for coronavirus disease. Through the tweet, the ministry said that it is harmful to consume hydroxychloroquine as it may have severe effects on your health. The medicine is currently approved to be used for patients who have been clinically advised, health care workers who come in close contact with a COVID-19 case and household contacts of positive cases. It also said that adequate quantities of hydroxychloroquine have been already procured.

Disclaimer: *Except for exclusions like maternity benefits, undisclosed diseases, etc. Please check policy wordings for more details.
**The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on industry experience and several secondary sources on the internet; and is subject to changes. Please go through the applicable policy wordings for updated ACKO-centric content and before making any insurance-related decisions.


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