DNCC has set up seven designated locations for sample collection for Covid-19 testing in Dhaka
With fever and body pain, Foijul Mia went to the Suchona Community Centre in Mohammadpur, one of seven Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) designated locations for a Covid-19 test.
Foijul, a man in his forties, called the government designated hotline after suffering from cough and fever for three days straight. He was advised to visit the community centre as the nearest location for being tested.
He showed up at the community centre at 8am on Saturday morning, an hour before scheduled sample collection starts there. However, his wait for a test turned very sour when a staffer involved in the process refused to get him tested at 9.30am.
“The test will begin at 10.30am, but only people who have registered earlier will be allowed a test,” Foijul told this correspondent, quoting what the staff member said.
Foijul was not ready for this.
“There were about 15 people in line when she informed us there would be no test for any of us as none of us had registered earlier. But the DNCC mayor earlier announced that people could get a test done at the community centre, and nothing regarding a registration was said before,” said frustrated Foijul.
Apparently, the people in line also requested the staff person to enlist their name for a test, but she declined, saying testing was already booked full for the next five days.
Suchona Community Centre is one of seven places designated by DNCC for a coronavirus test. The locations are - Uttara Community Centre, Sector 6, 4th Ward Community Centre in Mirpur-13, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal Community Centre in Modhubag of Mogbazar, 10th Ward Community Centre on Mirpur Mazar Road, Suchona Community Centre in Mohammadpur, 325 Hazi Ismail Dewan Road in Dakshinkhan of Azampur, and Uttarkhan General Hospital in Fozirbatan of Uttarkhan.
DNCC has also set up space for Covid-19 testing kiosks, operated by Brac in coordination with the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Another patient, Farzana Rahman, 52, who had been suffering from cough, fever, and shortness of breath for the last five days, also reached out to various government-designated hotlines for a test.
“I requested them for a test from home as I am a heart and diabetes patient, but the hotline operators said this would not be possible. They said I had to visit a place where samples are being collected. I came here this morning for a test, waited for nearly an hour, and then they declined,” said the woman, who visited the community centre accompanied by her husband and 15-year-old son, sounding frustrated.
The rest of the family also suspects they too might be infected, as their daughter who was diagnosed with Covid-19 a week ago, came to see them before her test results were known.
“Now, the symptoms are getting worse every day. But how can we manage a test, when the serial has already been booked for the next five days?” she questioned.
Dhaka Tribune asked the staff person why they were pre-booking tests where people seeking service were physically visiting the booths for a test every day. The staff person declined to comment.
Asked, DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam told Dhaka Tribune that he was aware of the huge rush at sample collection centres, but had not been informed of any process requiring pre-registration for sample collection.
“The booths we have installed were supposed to collect 30 samples a day from people of that locality, but we are experiencing a tremendous pressure of people seeking our services every day. We will look into the matter,” he said.
The mayor said they are trying to install 40 booths across Dhaka as there is a huge gap between supply and demand for Covid-19 testing.
“We are planning to increase the number of locations but it will be challenging as the DNCC does not have that many community centres.
“Now we are trying to increase the number of booths at seven locations so that more people can be served with sample collection,” he said.
The Chief Health Officer of DNCC will look into the allegations and problems, and will try to fine tune the process so that no city dweller feels harassed in giving their samples for testing, he added.
Dhaka Tribune also tried to contact DGHS Additional Director General, Professor Dr Nasima Sultana, over the phone. However, the calls remain unanswered.