Still no Covid tests at HSIA
Despite several promises by government high-ups and the prime minister's instruction weeks ago, RT-PCR labs at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport are still not serving passengers, especially migrants heading to the UAE.
The authorities were only able to set up the labs yesterday after missing several dates promised by even ministers.
Only 100 tests were done on trial yesterday. The samples tested were not even of passengers.
After setting up six RT-PCR testing facilities at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport premises, officials concerned yesterday said the labs would first hold trial tests before opening up to the United Arab Emirates bound passengers.
As part of the trial run, about 100 health officials gave their samples last night, Shahriar Sazzad, a health official at the airport, said.
The result from the trial tests would be provided to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB), he said.
If everything goes well, then CAAB will inform the airlines concerned to start sending their passengers to the labs for undergoing RT-PCR tests there, he added.
Shahriar further said Tk 1,600 per person has been fixed as a fee to have the Covid-19 test at the labs.
According to sources at the airport, the installation of the six labs was completed yesterday.
Initially, the labs have been set up inside Terminal-1. Later, those will be shifted to the designated space on the rooftop of the multi-storied car parking building of the airport, they said.
Several thousand UAE-based expatriates, including migrant workers and professionals, who came home on vacation, have been unable to fly to the Gulf country as there were no such test facilities at the country's international airports.
UAE last month made it mandatory for foreign passengers to have a rapid PCR test for Covid-19 maximum of six hours before the flight.
Following the Gulf country's announcement, the stranded expatriates at home had been demanding for speedy setup of the test facilities at international airports, saying such facilities were imperative for their economic survival.
Many of the expatriate workers feared that failure to reach their workplaces in UAE on time might cost them losing their jobs.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on September 6 instructed the ministries and the health directorate concerned to set up labs at the country's three international airports in Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet within two to three days.
On September 15, the expatriates' welfare ministry announced that based on the recommendations made by the health directorate, they have permitted seven healthcare facilities to set up labs at the HSIA.
However, one of the healthcare facilities later withdrew itself from the initiative.