Minister of State for Health Kishor Kanani has said that diamond workers and labourers who are being tested for COVID-19 through the rapid test will not have to pay for the same.
At present Rs 750 is charged from all those who undergo a rapid test for COVID-19. Kanani earlier held a meeting with Surat Municipal Corporation officials after a controversy emerged over the charges.
The SMC will now pay for the test of labourers in registered private laboratories although the labourers will also have to foot Rs 100 for the same.
Surat has increased the number of COVID-19 rapid tests. The district continues to register the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state every day.
Protest against charges
Many had protested the fee being charged from diamond and textile workers for the test. A meeting of the health minister, SMC officials and representatives of diamond and textile industries were held to discuss the issue.
The minister asked SMC not to charge diamond workers, who are reeling under a COVID-19 slowdown, for the test. Those in the know said the minister did not want the issue to snowball into a political controversy.
It was decided that the SMC would carry out the test for free and if it was done in a private laboratory the labourers and workers will have to foot Rs 100 as cost of the test.
Several migrant workers are returning to Surat after Unlock 3.0 and the SMC wants to test them to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Diamond industry hit hard
The diamond industry in Surat has been hit hard due to COVID-10. The industry had decided to voluntarily shut down operation up to July 31 after an unusually high number of diamond workers, traders and businessmen contracted the disease.
The SMC also closed down the diamond market in Surat before it was allowed to function under Unlock 3.0. It is believed that lack of social distancing and not wearing a mask after they were allowed to operate is what had led to a rise in COVID-19 cases among the industry.