Reduce test seekers’ sufferings | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 03, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:10 AM, May 03, 2020

Editorial

Reduce test seekers’ sufferings

Expand Covid-19 testing facilities, increase hospitals’ capacity

It is a matter of grave concern that we still do not have enough designated hospitals or institutions to conduct Covid-19 tests. While initially only the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) was conducting the tests, later the testing facilities were expanded to various government hospitals and also to some private ones. However, the capacity of these hospitals to conduct the tests is very limited. One of the most trusted hospitals where suspected Covid-19 patients are thronging to get tested is Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), which has also been struggling to give the expected service to its patients. Every day, around 1,000 people are going there for tests whereas the hospital has the capacity to do only around 250-270 tests a day. According to the hospital authorities, they have only one PCR machine to conduct the tests, and they cannot run their activities in full swing because the DGHS gave them the machine but did not give them the biosafety hoods. 

As hundreds of patients with fever, cough and other Covid-19 symptoms are swamping BSMMU to get tested, they are at high risk of contracting the virus (if they are not already infected). Introducing an online ticketing system may reduce the risk they are exposed to. It will also reduce their sufferings as they will not have to stand in queue for hours. At the same time, BSMMU being one of the most trusted hospitals among patients, needs to increase their testing capacity. The government should provide them with all logistical support in this regard.

Given that it takes about a week for a patient to know whether or not they are infected with coronavirus—suspected patients have to wait for 2/3 days before they can get tested and then another 3 days to know the result—there are pretty good chances that those who are infected will spread the virus among others in the meantime. Thus, there is no alternative to getting tested as early as possible. But for that our testing facilities need to be expanded and the other labs, apart from BSMMU and IEDCR, that are conducting the tests at present, have to prove their efficiency to earn people's trust. 

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