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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

People test Covid-19 positive without providing samples?

This grave mistake could cause trouble for both the recipients of the false results, and the actual Covid-19 patients the text messages are meant for

Update : 23 Jun 2020, 06:39 PM

MA Hossain, 32, works for a local newspaper in Chittagong. He received an SMS from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on Monday, stating that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

According to the SMS, Hossain gave his sample for testing on June 17, and it was tested at the National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre on the same day. He was advised to contact the DGHS hotline for further advice, if needed.

But he never gave his samples for Covid-19 testing.

”I did not go to Dhaka, nor did I give a sample [for Covid-19 testing], but I received this SMS telling me I am Covid-19 positive.”

He is not the only one: a number of people have been receiving similar SMS, telling them they are Covid-19 positive, when they never went for the testing.

On June 16, Siddik Howlader, a resident of Madaripur municipality, received such a text message on his phone, and the Health Division officials went looking for him to place him in isolation.

“I never even gave a sample. I am in good health," Siddik said. "I don't know who gave them my number and now the administration is searching for me.”

Experts say this is a dangerous flaw in the system during the Covid-19 crisis, as healthy people receiving such false messages is not only highly problematic and unacceptable, but it is also putting the health of the patients, whom the SMS are actually meant for, in jeopardy.

The healthy people who are receiving such texts are being subjected to scrutiny and stigma in society. Meanwhile, patients who are actually Covid-19 positive remain in the dark about their test results, which puts them at risk.

Mushtaq Hossain, adviser of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said: “It is not acceptable. This kind of false SMS and false reports have various negative impacts. 

“Mistakes such as these are happening due to a shortage of manpower and too much workload. And the lack of supervision is also one of the reasons," he added.

“I think less work is better then wrong work. The government should appoint more people here [in testing facilities]. Till then, those who are conducting the tests and sending out the results should do so carefully and accurately,” Mushtaq further said.

According to the DGHS, as of Tuesday, 119,198 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Bangladesh, since its first detection on March 8. The death toll has risen to 1,545, while 47,635 have recovered so far.

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