The RT-PCR test is considered the gold standard in SARS-CoV-2 detection for diagnosis of COVID-19. For it to be used widely in Oman, a section of the public is calling for reduction in prices of COVID-19 testing. They believe rapid uptake of the test will help in preventing the spread of the virus.
To raise awareness on the issue and involve more people in the pressing matter, a group of citizens has launched a hashtag – #Covid_19TestPrices – on social media which has sparked a flurry of activity.
Dr Hamed al Kalbani, who works in the Department of Cardiac Surgery in Sorbonne University, Paris, said, “I hope that the government will partner with the private sector to subsidise the price of the PCR test in this critical period. Some are afraid to take the test because of its high price and continue to mix with others, which may contribute to the rapid spread of the virus.”
According to Dr Kalbani, private health institutions can bear 15 to 25 per cent of the cost of the test on account of their corporate social responsibility, while the government can subsidise 25 to 30 per cent of the testing cost if it so chooses.
“Supporting the cost of testing can reduce the speed of the virus’ spread and reduce the burden on people,” said Dr Kalbani.
Among the comments on Twitter was Muthzal Mai’s, saying, “An employee was found to be infected with the virus in our company.It decided to conduct tests for all employees and close the office for sterilisation. It cost more than RO10,000.”
Hamdan al Yaqoubi tweeted, “I hope the government provides a mobile testing unit to control this epidemic.”
Another twitterati Waddah al Hashemi wrote, “I hope the Ministry of Health reviews the prices of COVID-19 testing because many countries test for free to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Among many others who reacted on Twitter was Mohammad al Sinaidi. “I hope the Ministry of Health offers the COVID-19 test for only RO10 so that the maximum number of people can be easily examined,” he tweeted.