The NGO so far installed 13 walk-in testing kiosks in Dhaka and Narayanganj, and targets to primarily develop 100 booths for 19 hotspots
Non-government organization Brac has installed 13 walk-in sample collection kiosks in two Covid-19 hotspots - Dhaka and Narayanganj- to help the government authorities speed up the process of sample collection from people with symptoms of Covid-19.
Inspired by similar models deployed in South Korea, the NGO targets to initially provide 100 such kiosks to the government for boosting up sample collection in 19 hotspots where the Covid-19 cases were identified in larger numbers.
A Walk-in Sample Kiosk (WISK) is a glass cabin where a healthcare staff member can sit inside for collecting the throat swab from the person on the outside using thick gloves attached to the glass panel.
The kiosk model, first developed in South Korea, ensures safety for healthcare professionals collecting samples from patients as it does not require direct exposure and contact with suspects.
Also, it helps minimize the number of personal protective equipment required in the sample collection process because the healthcare staff will not require changing their PPEs after collecting the samples.
“In partnership with the government, we have installed 13 kiosks in Dhaka and Narayanganj as of today. Each of the kiosks can collect 30 to 40 samples per hour,” Morseda Chowdhury, associate director of the Health, Nutrition and Population Programme (HNPP) of Brac told Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.
In Dhaka, four kiosks have been set up at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital, three kiosks at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital, and one kiosk at Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital.
In Narayanganj, five kiosks were installed at US Bangla Medical College in Kanchan area under the sub-district of Rupganj.
The NGO is scheduled to install kiosks in Keraniganj, outskirts of Dhaka on Monday.
“Initially, Brac will set up 100 walk-in kiosks across 19 risky regions to support the government’s initiative of scaling up testing. The areas where infections reported are higher will get priority,” Morseda said.
In districts, the kiosks will be installed in medical college hospitals and district hospitals, she added.
The NGO however identified that the huge number of technicians required for managing the kiosks remains a challenge.
“We have already formed a list. We will call for interviews, hire more technicians and arrange training for them so that they can be engaged whenever there is a need to manage kiosks,” said the Brac official.
According to an estimate prepared by the NGO, Brac would in total develop 600 kiosks for 64 districts across Bangladesh to lend support in the fight against Covid-19.
“Everything depends on the situation. A major benefit of kiosks is that they are mobile booths, so we can transfer these booths to any area if demands rises in a particular region in days ahead,” she said.
With the total 600 kiosks, once developed, BRAC is expecting to help the government by setting up at least a sample collection booth in each upazila across Bangladesh.
The health authorities in Bangladesh reported the country’s first Covid-19 cases on March 8. As of Sunday, the authorities tested total 81,434 samples from suspects and 9,455 people had tested positive for the extremely contagious disease in the country, including 177 who have died.
Currently, a total of 33 testing labs - 17 in Dhaka and 16 in districts - are collecting samples and examining those across Bangladesh.