• Saturday, Aug 15, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:54 am

ED: Going in the opposite direction

  • Published at 09:26 pm July 13th, 2020
covid-19 test
Photo: BIGSTOCK

Charging for money for tests at government facilities is inviting disaster

More than four months into the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become abundantly clear that we are not yet out of the woods. Experts have warned that the month of July could hit us the hardest, and as such, this is a time to ramp up our testing efforts throughout the country.

But the reality has not quite matched the suggestion of experts. The number of daily tests conducted has actually gone down starting the end of June. It would seem that we are going in the wrong direction during a crisis where we cannot afford any major mistakes.

This drop in the daily test rate may be attributed to the imposition of a fee on testing at government facilities, and the requirement of a doctor’s note to get tested. 

These rules, unfortunately, are hurting us, and only time will tell just how much they end up hurting is the long run. Requiring a doctor’s note will simply cause many to decide against taking the trouble to get themselves tested in spite of showing glaring Covid-19 symptoms.

Furthermore, as we have editorialized before, charging for money for tests at government facilities is inviting disaster. The fee was introduced at a time when the testing rate was already too low, and economics dictates that after the imposition of a fee, fewer people would want to get themselves tested, particularly in a country like Bangladesh where so many live hand to mouth, and view medical testing as a luxury.

It is time to re-think the factors that are causing low-testing rates, and backtrack on policies that are not helping us. It is OK for policy-makers to admit that mistakes were made in the past, but it is not OK to continue endangering the lives of people in this country by enforcing measures that are clearly counterproductive.

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