Inadequate Covid testing facilities may deteriorate the pandemic situation

02 June 2020


THE overwhelming demand for Covid-19 tests has rendered the designated private facilities also unable to offer the tests to test seekers. Now 50 labs, including 17 private ones, are doing the Covid-19 RT-PCR tests after the number of government-run facilities was found inadequate to handle the pressure of the test seekers. The private hospitals and diagnostic centres have been allowed to conduct Covid-19 tests on their indoor patients, outdoor patients and also to collect samples from home.
But none of the private facilities is now collecting samples from home and most of them have already limited the number of outdoor tests, officials of the facilities said. This is a big problem as Bangladesh is still among the lowest Covid-19 testing countries. The tests done per million population in the country are 1,805 - the lowest in South Asia and 153rd among the World's 215 countries.
A mystery remains as to why Gonoshasthaya Kendra ---- which has developed a kit for rapid antibody and antigen tests (Tk 700 for both tests together) to determine the presence of Covid-19 in a person, has not been allowed by the government to do its trial run yet. To understand the problem that we are facing we need to understand that we are at least a degree of magnitude lower than even those countries like South Korea which have done over 16000 tests per million people.
So we need to at least multiply our test taking capability by over ten times at a minimum. To get at Denmark's level we need to enhance it by over fifty times. Why then is the government not allowing the test kits of Gonoshasthaya Kendra, which can easily ramp up testing manifold times? Government officials need to conduct affairs of the state from their offices instead of holding videoconferencing meetings from their homes. This cant be the way to run health services-especially in the times of a pandemic.


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