• Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020
  • Last Update : 04:30 am

Govt to expand Covid-19 testing facilities

  • Published at 12:48 am March 30th, 2020
Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Hospitals across the country setting up labs, waiting for test kits

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) announced they are going to expand Covid-19 testing facilities to medical college hospitals in each division. 

Most of the medical colleges are yet to begin testing as they are still in the process of setting up the requisite laboratories and are waiting for the arrival of test kits.

In Dhaka, the Institute of Public Health, Dhaka Shishu (Children’s) Hospital, Dhaka Medical College Hospital, and Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital (Mitford Hospital), have been given the authority to run testing facilities. Testing has already begun at the first two, as well as at the Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (BITID) in Chittagong.

Dhaka Tribune reached out to a few of the health care providers who have been given the authority to run tests for Covid-19. Most of them said they will start testing soon, but were unable to specify when.   

Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) Director Brig Gen AKM Nasiruddin told Dhaka Tribune he is hoping the testing facility at the hospital will be operational in one or two days. 

The director added that patients already at DMCH who are suspected of having Covid-19 will have priority.

“We will not take samples from people making requests over the phone. Our service will be for DMCH patients who are highly suspected [of having Covid-19],” he said.

Brig Gen AKM Nasiruddin further said the DMCH virology department would take samples from suspected patients at the DMCH emergency ward as well as outdoors. 

He also told this correspondent he thinks Bangladesh needs to open more labs to test for coronavirus infection, as the country is densely populated. 

“We do not have that many patients compared to other developed nations. I think we do have enough testing facilities considering the number of patients we have now. However, we will need more if there are more suspected cases,” he said. 

Right now, they are not taking samples from suspected community transmission cases, the DMCH director added.   

On Wednesday, IEDCR) Director Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora said they suspect community transmission of Covid-19 is happening on a limited scale.

It is unlikely that community transmission is happening all across Bangladesh, she added.

Several people have complained that they are not being tested even though they are showing symptoms of coronavirus. In a Facebook post on March 25, Atiqua Roma claimed she has been suffering from a dry cough and severe breathing difficulties for almost two weeks, but was unable to reach the IEDCR in repeated attempts.  

Khulna Civil Surgeon Sujat Ahmed told Dhaka Tribune they are yet to get an official notice to start testing in Khulna. 

“The lab is not set up and we have not received any test kits yet,” said Ahmed. 

He added that they had only collected 4 samples from suspected patients and sent them to the IEDCR for testing. 

Dr Sheikh Fazle Rabbi, civil surgeon of Chittagong, said they started testing on Wednesday and are only taking samples from highly suspected patients. 

He further said eight samples have been collected so far, and three came out negative.

On condition of anonymity, an official of Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College told Dhaka Tribune they have not received the necessary equipment for a testing facility yet, and they are hoping to start testing as soon as they get it. 

Dr Gopendranath  Acharya, divisional director of Rajshahi Divisional Health Office, said the testing facility at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital will start operation within a week. 

“We are setting up labs, and test kits will arrive after this weekend. We are hoping to start testing samples from suspected patients next week,” he said. 

He added that Rajshahi Medical College Hospital has received 100 test kits so far. 

When asked if there is a shortage of test kits, the divisional director said: “We have enough.”

Suspected Covid-19 patients in Rajshahi can get tested at RMCH, he reiterated.      

On Friday, the IEDCR announced that two more physicians, among four people, have tested positive for Covid-19 in the country in the last 24 hours.

With the latest development, the number of total coronavirus patients in the country stands at 48.

Till now, the institute has conducted some 1,076 tests for Covid-19.

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