Gov’t clarifies increase in COVID-19 test fees

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THE recent increase of Pre-Departure Test Fee of $500 to $1500 is in line with all fees charged around the world.

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A Government statement today clarified that the fees are applicable to those that need to travel overseas, in particular to countries that require Pre-Departure test.

The statement adds if a country does not require Pre-Departure Tests, then there is no need for a person to undertake any COVID-19 test.

“Our charge for $500 per test was not based on actual cost for each test. It does not replace our cost. Actual cost for a test includes the Personal Protective Equipment that a swabber uses including the use of the GeneXpert machine,” the statement clarified.

The Government statement said the cost of COVID-19 tests had been supported by donors.

However, it said SIG has now started taking on the full cost for the service, therefore needs to cost-recover to ensure we can replace the test kits to provide testing for citizens who are being repatriated.

“All test kits were purposely provided to assist the Government to test people entering the country to protect the country and not those departing. We will shortly be charging categories of people entering as well as soon as we can finalise the fee schedule,” he said. 

The statement said the cost of all personnel’s that do the test are funded by SIG and all front liners are funded by SIG.

SIG funding is limited due to CIVID-19 response. The fees will contribute a little to SIG’s efforts. The cost for repatriation for all nationals fall on SIG at this point. This is in millions a week,” the statement adds.

The statement adds that the cost is also high because swab collections are done at different quarantine stations, thus increasing the usage of the PPE, considering that it is being done in the field, extra precautions are taken for Infection Prevention and Control.

The statement further clarified that the tests are requirements based on decisions made by Government.

“Similarly tests are also done in Australia and New Zealand for 200 plus AUD $ NZD. In PNG, similar tests are around $1,400 SBD and Fiji around $300 FJD,” the statement adds.

The statement also highlighted that travelling overseas is a personal choice and testing of those going out is not necessarily a SIG policy and objective.

However, the statement adds it is also the requirement of other countries, thus, people wishing to travel out during the SOPE must abide by the legal requirements of their country of destination.

ENDS///

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