The cap on charges comes after several patients complained that tests are being conducted at exorbitant rates as high as up to Rs 9,000 in some private labs.

Following the complaints, the Union Health Ministry instructed the Health Department of Delhi government to take steps to ensure that there is no overcharging.

In a letter to Secretary, Health Department, S C L Das, Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Jagdish Prasad also pointed out that there was "adequate capacity" at three government namely, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute and AIIMS, where these tests are done free of cost.

In response, the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) directed the private labs not to overcharge, at a meeting with the seven private and three government laboratories.

"We have instructed the seven private laboratories authorised to carry out swine flu tests at uniform rates. Rs 4,500 will be the ceiling rate, maximum a laboratory can charge. This decision was taken following complaints of overcharging," said Dr S K Sharma, DHS, Health Department, Delhi government.

Also, only those patients prescribed by designated hospitals will undergo tests. Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said strict action will be taken against labs found overcharging.

The government also announced a helpline number, 011-22307145, for the people to complain in case of overcharging by private labs.

Meanwhile, 643 tests were carried out on Wednesday, of which 102 tested positive for H1N1 virus, according to official data.

A total of 1,781 cases of swine-flu have been reported in Delhi so far and a total of six people have died due to the disease.

Across the country, the toll due to the virus touched 663 on Wednesday, while the number of those affected was 10,025 so far this year.

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