With people struggling to get tested in time and new cases rising sharply, experts said rapid test kits are now the only answer to the testing crunch.
As the deadly disease has spread to all districts, the 50 Covid-19 testing laboratories have been struggling to ramp up daily tests.
The number of tests taken every day has been stuck at a little more than 12,000.
After testing 12,486 individuals' samples, the Directorate General of Health Services yesterday reported 2,635 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to 63,026.
Experts said daily testing needs immediate ramping up, and rapid testing is the only way to ease the pressure on the pathology services.
"Due to inadequate PCR testing facilities, almost 90 percent of the people who need testing are being deprived of the service. Now, rapid testing is the only solution to immediately detect and isolate patients. A delayed decision will lead to things getting out of control," Prof Ridwanur Rahman, a medicine and infectious disease specialist, told The Daily Star.
He said rapid test kits will make detection easier, despite giving partially false results. "Such false results can later be validated through further PCR testing."
According to the World Health Organization, rapid test results are based either on detection of proteins in the Covid-19 virus from respiratory samples (e.g. sputum, throat swab), or detection in blood or serum of human antibodies generated in response to an infection.
Recently, the use of rapid test kits started in the US and the UK.
Currently, the Rapid Dot Blot Kit, developed by Gonoshasthaya Pharmaceuticals Ltd, is being examined by the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, which is likely to publish the observations next Thursday.
Earlier at a meeting last Thursday, the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) for the Covid-19 outbreak formed a sub-committee to finalise the protocol on the rapid antibody test, Dr Mohammad Shahidullah, president of the NTAC, told The Daily Star.
"Our opinion is that the rapid test kit has no usefulness in detection," Prof Nazrul Islam, a member of the NTAC, told The Daily Star.
In the 24 hours till 2:30pm yesterday, 35 more Covid-19 patients have died, said Prof Nasima Sultana, additional director general (administration) of the DGHS, in the daily online bulletin.
The death toll now stands at 846 and the death rate at 1.34 percent.
During this period, 521 Covid-19 patients have recovered, taking the total number of recoveries to 13,325 and the recovery rate to 21.14 percent, she said, adding that 314 people were put under isolation.
Of the dead, 28 were male and seven female, the DGHS official said, adding that 20 were from Dhaka, eight from Chattogram, two from Sylhet, three from Rajshahi and two from Barishal division.
Of them, two were aged between 11 and 20, three between 21 and 30, two between 31 and 40, three between 41 and 50, 10 between 51 and 60, five between 61 and 70, nine between 71 and 80 and another was between 81 and 90, Dr Nasima also said.
Dhaka city continues to be the worst affected region in terms of the number of Covid-19 patients detected and deaths so far.
As of yesterday, 19,327 cases were detected in the capital city, followed by Chattogram district with 2,875 cases.
After more than two months of shutdown, the government partially reopened offices and businesses. Officials, however, said that it is also planning to impose area-wise lockdowns.
With the surge of infections in many hotspots, local administrations of different districts and towns have imposed area-wise lockdowns to contain further spread of the virus.