COVID19: Cyprus labs accused of test overcharging

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Clinical laboratories are accused of overcharging people wanting to get speed tested for the coronavirus, as they are allegedly charging up to five times the going rate.

Doctors have reported that patients they’ve sent to get tested at labs are being charged between €100 and €150 instead of €30 which is the average price for such a test.

The Association of Clinical Laboratories urged the public to be wary when going in for a test as some labs are carrying out speed tests and not the swab test done by the Cyprus Institute of Genetics and Neurology.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, association president Charis Charilaou, said: “The Association has received a number of such complaints from doctors, but we can’t do anything about it as it’s a free market. It is up to the public to be careful and ask in advance for the prices that will be charged.”

Swab tests do indeed cost between €100 and €150 because it involves an expensive procedure.

Chariloau clarified that “the test requested by the Ministry of Health to be carried out by the clinical laboratories is the test to detect the genetic material of coronavirus, called PCR and is obtained with a nasopharyngeal swab rather than blood.”

The swab test is more expensive, but some labs are charging the same price for a speed test which should be much cheaper.

Speed tests trace antibodies in blood samples taken and not the genetic material of the virus as in the case of a swab.

Charilaou said a large number of people have turned to clinical laboratories since the announcement of their collaboration with the state to carry out tests for coronavirus.

He said the association is not in a position to give figures on the number of tests carried out, but data is being submitted by labs to the Ministry of Health.

“What we do know is that there is a high demand for these tests.”

The Clinical Labs Association boss said labs are well stocked with reagents needed to carry out such tests but called on people to only come in for a test on the suggestion of their GP.

“Once they come in for a test, people should ask what test the lab offer does, what the cost will be and what do the results mean,” urged Charilaou.