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2 April, 2020 12:19:26 AM
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Now 10,000 COVID-19 tests possible a day

12 labs in operation; 90,000 kits available, more in pipeline
ANISUR RAHMAN KHAN, Dhaka
Now 10,000 COVID-19 tests possible a day

With 12 designated labs for detection of COVID-19, Bangladesh can now test over 10,000 samples a day, according to sources in the health department. The country currently has around 90,000 kits to test COVID-19 samples, they added saying without new kits, the current stock will last nine more days at the current testing rate. The sources said seven more polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines, used to test samples for detecting COVID19, are scheduled to be installed within a couple of days.

If all 19 PCR machines are used, the kits will be exhausted sooner than the expected timeframe, they add. A PCR machine can test 90 samples in three hours and 720 in 24 hours. “More kits will reach the country from China soon,” a senior health official told The Independent yesterday.

The government is testing people for COVID-19 free of cost only at the designated labs. It is not allowing the tests at private hospitals or any other government labs, considering the highly contagious nature of the virus.

It depends on the higher-ups in the government whether they will allow public and private laboratories to test for COVID-19, Dr Nasima Sultana, additional director general of the Directorate General (Administration) of Health Services (DGHS), told The Independent.

“We have already installed PCR machines at different places to test suspected COVID-19 patients,” she said.

Dr Sultana also said that three PCR machines are already installed at the Institute of Epidemiology,

Disease Control, and Research (IEDCR).

Besides, one machine each has been set up at the Institute of Public Health (IPH), Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives (IDESHI), National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre, icddr,b, Shishu Hospital, Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (BITID) in Chattogram, Rangpur Medical College and Hospital, and the Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital, she added.

More PCR machines will be set up at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), and at Mymensingh, Barishal, Sylhet, and Khulna medical colleges and hospitals within one or two days as part of the installation of 19 laboratories by the government, she noted.

She said the IEDCR can test 1,000 samples a day. Asked about permitting other private and public labs to check for COVID-19, Dr Sultana said: “At least Tk. 3,000 is needed for each test. But we are conducting the tests free of cost. This is a highly sensitive test and hence the permission depends on the higher-ups in the government.” The number of COVID-19 cases in the country is not very high and therefore many PCR machines are lying idle due to lack of samples, IEDCR director Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora told this correspondent.

“I don’t see the need to involve private labs to test COVID-19 samples at this moment. If needed, the higher-ups in the government will take the decision,” she added.

When asked about test kits, Dr Meerjady said: “We have sufficient test kits. The IEDCR itself can test over 1,000 COVID-19 samples daily. But we receive very few reports of suspected coronavirus infection compared to our capacity.”

PCR machines in BSMMU have already been set up, she said in reply to a query.

“The capacity of every PCR machine is not the same. It would take time to develop the expertise to conduct such tests on a random basis. Roughly one kit is needed to test a person at this moment. But if someone is found to be infected with COVID-19, they need more tests,” she explained.

Meanwhile, three more people have tested positive in Bangladesh for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 54. A total of six persons have died of the virus till now.

JG

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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