BRAC will launch antigen-based Covid-19 rapid tests tomorrow which will allow potential coronavirus patients to get results quicker than the RT-PCR tests which are used widely in the country.
The programme will run under the overall supervision of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). The service will initiate primarily with 16 booths -- 15 in Dhaka and one in Chattogram, a BRAC press release said.
BRAC has been collecting samples to be tested for coronavirus through RT-PCR test by installing testing booths (kiosks) in different parts of the country since March 2020. It is now adding rapid antigen tests to the existing facilities.
The plan to expand this activity has come amid the new surge in Covid-19 cases. The rapid antigen test facility will gradually expand to BRAC's 32 testing booths in Dhaka and four testing booths in Chattogram, according to BRAC's Health, Nutrition and Population Programme (HNPP).
The booths will remain open from 9:00am to 12:00 noon from Saturday to Thursday. Each of the booths will be able to collect and analyse 150 samples a day, according to the press release.
Currently, RT-PCR tests are used in Bangladesh for a majority of samples, and takes around 24 hours to produce results. But an antigen test will deliver the result within 30 minutes only, which, BRAC expects said, will add pace to the government's Covid-19 testing operations.
Anyone who has been referred by a registered physician, is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms like fever, dry cough, fatigue, sore throat and respiratory difficulties, or has been in contact with a confirmed Covid-19 patient, is eligible to undergo the test through BRAC operated booths, the press release said.
To get the test via a BRAC booth, a person must take an online appointment at coronatest.brac.net. They must pay the government fixed Tk 100 as fee via mobile money service Nagad to avail the service.