Covid-19 Tests: Many labs struggling for lack of manpower | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 17, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:52 AM, July 17, 2020

Covid-19 Tests: Many labs struggling for lack of manpower

39 deaths, 2,733 cases recorded in a day

As the health ministry asked the health directorate on Wednesday to inform the Covid-19 test results to the patients in three days, officials of the directorate said that would be difficult due to human resource shortage.

On Wednesday, Shamima Nasreen, deputy secretary and member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) issued two separate directives regarding Covid-19 sample collection and test results.

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The directives were based on the recommendations of the NTAC's 14th meeting held on July 10.

Prof Nasima Sultana, additional director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) told The Daily Star: "This [publishing results] depends on the number of samples, human resources and technical issues. We will try to follow the directives."

In the 14th meeting, the NTAC stressed on "reducing the time between sample collection and result publication".

"When test results reach [certain organisations] late, isolation and [transmission] control become impossible," the NTAC said in a press release.

The NTAC also pointed out that increasing the capacity of the existing laboratories was more important than increasing the number of the laboratories.

According to the DGHS, there are 79 Covid-19 testing laboratories across the country.

Sources said, due to the shortage of human resources for collecting the samples, running the tests and generating the results, and the shortage of state-of-the-art devices, many of the labs failed to generate results on time.

One of the main causes of the delay is the manual extraction of samples instead of using an auto-extraction machine, an official of the DGHS told The Daily Star.

The NTAC recommended the appointment of skilled human resources in the labs and use of auto-extraction machines.

In a separate letter, the ministry also directed the DGHS to collect samples from the patients over 50 years old from their homes.

During the last few days, the number of daily tests have decreased.

According to, Bangladesh tested 5,866 samples per million population while India tested 8,991 and Pakistan tested 7,365 samples.

"After the fees were imposed, fewer people are coming for tests. Besides, flood situation in many areas may be another reason," Dr Mushtuq Hussain, consultant of the IEDCR told The Daily Star recently.

Prof Nasima Sultana Sultana added, "Fear of Covid-19 has reduced among people. Our sample collection booths stay idle after 1:00pm daily."


In yesterday's briefing, Prof Nasima said 39 Covid-19 patients died, taking the tally to 2,496 -- around 1.27 percent of all confirmed cases.

A total of 2,733 people tested positive for coronavirus, which takes the total number of confirmed cases to 1,96,323, which is 19.76 percent of all samples tested.

Including the 12,889 samples tested yesterday, a total of 9,93,291 samples were tested since January 21.

Of all patients, a total of 1,06,963 -- around 54.48 percent -- recovered including yesterday's 1,940.

Of those reported dead yesterday, 31 were male and eight were female; 35 died in hospitals and four at home.

Around 79 percent of all deceased were male and more than 73 percent were aged over 50.

One of those who died yesterday was under 10, one between 11 and 20, two between 31 and 40, three between 41 and 50, 12 between 51 and 60, and 20 were over 60.

Eighteen were from Dhaka, six from Chattogram, one from Rajshahi, six from Khulna, two from Barishal, and three from each Sylhet and Rangpur divisions.

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