• Tuesday, Apr 20, 2021
  • Last Update : 06:38 pm

Coronavirus: Bangladesh plans multi-sector initiative to expand testing

  • Published at 12:15 pm April 15th, 2020
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PCR laboratories of private hospitals, universities will be used for Covid-19 testing

Getting tested for coronavirus in Bangladesh has not been an easy task for many suspected cases, as the health authorities kept it quite limited since the first cases were reported on March 8.

Gradually, only 17 institutions were allowed for coronavirus testing since March 8.

But, amid much criticism from different quarters, the health authorities finally decided to go for a multi-sector-approach to add new institutions for Covid-19 testing, allowing some private hospitals to conduct tests for the virus.

It will also use Polymerase Chain Reaction [PCR] testing labs under different universities and ministries of agriculture and livestock, to enhance testing facilities.

Currently, nine labs in Dhaka and eight labs in different districts are conducting Covid-19 tests for suspected cases.

11 new institutions to launch tests

The government has decided to introduce coronavirus testing facilities at 11 hospitals to get more test results.

Among the hospitals, five will be in Dhaka and six in other districts, Dr Nasima Sultana, additional director general [admin] of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said.

The hospitals include Kurmitola General Hospital, Sir Salimullah Medical College (Mitford Hospital), Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, Mugda Medical College, and Sheikh Russell Gastroliver Institute in Dhaka.

The other six  facilities outside Dhaka are at Chittagong Medical College, Comilla Medical College, Faridpur Medical College, Kushtia Medical College, M Abdur Rahim Medical College in Dinajpur, and Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College in Bogra.

“Sample testing will begin at these 11 institutions within a few days,” said Nasima.

Private hospitals to be allowed also

The government has also decided to include some private hospitals and institutions to use their PCR machines for the coronavirus testing.

“Based on certain conditions, private hospitals and institutions having PCR laboratories will be brought under the testing mechanism,” Nasima said.

The DGHS has requested the interested institutions with PCR lab facilities to contact this number 01313791149.

Neighbouring countries India and Pakistan have already brought private hospitals into their national response plans in anticipation of the threat of community transmission, while Bangladesh is lagging behind.

Bangladesh Private Medical College Association (BPMCA) has long been urging the government to allow a fixed number of private hospitals having capacity to conduct Covid-19 tests to enhance the testing capacity.

“Aimed at gradually increasing the number of testing labs, the government also decided to use PCR labs under different universities and under the ministries of agriculture and livestock,” Nasima further added.

Where can you test for Covid-19 at the moment?

Free tests for the detection of Covid-19 infection are now being conducted in 17 labs, according to officials at the DGHS.

In Dhaka, tests can be done at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), National Polio, Measles and Rubella Laboratory in Institute of Public Health (NPML-IPH), Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Child Health Research Foundation under Dhaka Shishu Hospital, Dhaka Medical College, Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives [non-profitable], National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre (NILMRC), and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b).

The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) is conducting tests for the members of armed forces.

Outside of Dhaka,  Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases in Chittagong, Khulna Medical College, Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College, Mymensingh Medical College, Rajshahi Medical College, Rangpur Medical College, Sher-e-Bangla Medical College in Barisal, and Cox's Bazar Medical College are conducting tests for Covid-19.

Covid-19 at a glance

The coronavirus first broke out in China’s Wuhan in December last year. The Covid-19, a severe acute respiratory illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus named Sars-CoV-2, since then has quickly spread throughout the world, becoming a pandemic in less than three months.

The health authorities in Bangladesh reported the first Covid-19 cases on March 8. 

As of Tuesday, 1,012 people had tested positive for the extremely contagious disease in the country, including 46 who have died.

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