One-and-a-half-month after imposing fees on Covid-19 testing at state-run hospitals, the government has now decided to reduce the charges.
The Health and Family Welfare Ministry took the decision in a meeting on Wednesday, confirmed the ministry's Public Relation Officer (PRO) Maidul Islam.
As per the new decision, patients will have to pay Tk100 instead of Tk200 for testing if they provide their samples at collection booths. Testing samples of inpatients at hospitals will cost the same.
Also, the fee will be Tk300 instead of Tk500 if samples are collected from homes.
The Covid-19 testing was free for all at the state-run facilities since the deadly disease made landfall in Bangladesh back in March.
The government imposed the fee from June 29 to “avoid unnecessary tests and ensure better management," the ministry had claimed as people, who did not show any symptoms, provided their samples for testing as it was free of cost.
However, afterwards, the number of testing gradually came down, and many stakeholders including health sector specialists had also criticized the government move.
“The new fee will come into effect in the next two days,” he said and added that the fees were reduced for the sake of the people.
"Many poor people have lost interest in getting tested because of the fees. We talked to the prime minister about this and followed her directive in reducing the fees... Hopefully, numbers of tests will increase after fees are reduced," the minister said.
He also mentioned that the quality, availability and effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine was being analyzed by keeping in constant touch with all countries.
He claimed that 70% of beds at Covid-19 dedicated hospitals were currently empty. As a result, a large number of doctors and nurses were passing idle time.
The government was working to convert some of these hospitals into non-Covid-19 hospitals, he said, adding that this would benefit non-Covid-19 patients more.
Bangladesh’s official coronavirus tally on Wednesday stood at more than 285,000 cases and nearly 3,800 deaths.