Labs in Chattogram unable to process the large number of Covid-19 test samples that have been collected
An excessive number of samples have been collected in Chattogram for Covid-19 testing. More than 3,000 samples have been collected so far at the Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (BITID) and Chattogram Medical College Hospital (CMCH) for testing.
The laboratories in Chattogram are unable to handle such a large number of Covid-19 test samples. Therefore the civil surgeon's office in Chattogram is sending 3,000 samples to the national laboratory in Dhaka on Wednesday for testing.
Sheikh Fazle Rabbi, civil surgeon of Chattogram, told The Business Standard that they were sending 3,000 samples for testing in Dhaka to ease the pressure on the labs in Chattogram.
Once the Covid-19 sample testing begins at Chattogram University, the backlog will be reduced, added the civil surgeon.
Dr Shakil Ahmed, chief of the BITID Lab, was affected by Covid-19, so sample testing was closed for three days which further increased the sample backlog, sources from the civil surgeon office said.
However, he is scheduled to resume work on Wednesday as he has recovered from the novel coronavirus infection.
Samples are currently tested in the labs at BITID, CMCH and Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU). Sample testing in Chattogram University is temporarily closed because of an error in the testing kits.
Dr Shakil Ahmed of the BITID lab told The Business Standard that they had more samples in the lab than their processing capacity.
"Every day we test around 300 samples on average. Now, we have over 1000 samples. We also need human resources to speed up the testing process," he said.
We also need human resources for the documentation of the samples tested in our lab. And if we do not increase our personnel, we may be in trouble in future as the Covid-19 situation is worsening gradually.
BITID sources said that they receive samples from Chattogram city and from all other upzailas of the district.
Sources from CMCH said that some 2,200 samples were placed in the lab of this hospital, which is far more that the lab can process.
According to the information from the civil surgeon's office, 562 samples were tested in three labs on June 8; the number was 586 on June 7 and 510 in June 6.
On an average, some 600 samples were tested in three labs in Chittagong every day.
Moreover, samples were also collected from Cox's Bazar Medical College Hospital in several upazilas of south Chattogram.
However, the quantity of samples is less than in other labs in Chattogram.
Meanwhile, relevant authorities expected that the sample testing would be smoother as Chattogram University (CU) started Covid-19 sample testing. But the institution stumbled in the beginning. All the samples tested positive. So, sample testing is closed for now.
Professor SM Monirul Hasan, proctor of CU, told The Business Standard that the kits were initially returned due to some defects.
"Later, when the sample test started, 61 samples were tested in the first day and 112 samples were tested the next day. The results of the sample test have been sent to the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health. The decision will be taken later after talking to the health department," he said.
The CU lab can test 500 samples. It will test samples from three northern parts of Chattogram, namely the Hathazari, Fatikchhari and Nazirhat areas.
The laboratory was inaugurated on June 1 at the Faculty of Biology in CU to identify Covid-19.
Notably, coronavirus testing started on May 9 at Chattogram Medical College (CMC).
Also, sample testing started two weeks ago in the lab of CVASU.
Earlier, on March 25, the first Covid-19 test in Chattogram was started at the BITID lab.
At present 4,168 people have been infected with Covid-19 in Chattogram. As of June 8, 99 people had died of novel coronavirus in the district.