Nevertheless, it helps identify patients who show symptoms in as little as 15 minutes
Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic first appeared in Bangladesh, there have been calls to ramp up the number of tests being conducted. Particularly, antigen-based testing for Covid-19 was seen as a more affordable and faster option to help conduct more testing, something on which this newspaper has editorialized several times.
To that end, it is good to see that, despite considerable delay in taking the decision, the government has now approved the use of antigen-based rapid testing for Covid-19 at all government hospitals, district hospitals, government PCR labs, and all health institutes as per the recommendation of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and the interim guideline of the World Health Organization.
While antigen-based testing is not as accurate as the RT-PCR test, nevertheless, it helps identify patients who show symptoms in as little as 15 minutes, who can then be isolated if they test positive. For those who test negative, they can then be retested by the RT-PCR test to confirm their status.
When it comes to the number of tests being done as a proportion of citizens, Bangladesh has consistently been extremely low on the list. This has compelled experts and general people alike to question the true scenario in the country with respect to Covid-19.
Now, with the approval of antigen-based rapid testing, there is hope that we will finally be able to get a more accurate picture of the situation in the country, and continue to take the necessary measures to combat it.