Concerned people say that the results are delayed because the number of samples far exceeds the hospital's capacity to test them
It takes up to 16 days to get the result of a coronavirus sample test from the PCR lab of Dinajpur M Abdur Rahim Medical College Hospital (MARMC).
It has also been alleged that the sample of the same person was negative elsewhere but found positive at MARMC. And this has caused widespread anger among the locals.
Concerned people say that the results are delayed because the number of samples far exceeds the hospital's capacity to test them.
So, the process has created a backlog in sample testing They also believe that the problem will be solved if the number of PCR labs is increased.
Dhiman Das, a journalist from Khansama upazila of Dinajpur, developed coronavirus symptoms on June 8.
On June 13, he provided samples for Covid-19 test to MARMC, and he got a positive result after 15 days - on June 28.
He said, "After providing sample for Covid-19 test, I recovered. Despite the recovery, I was in home quarantine until June 20. And once I felt I was completely fit, I got out of the home."
However, his home was under lockdown after receiving the Covid-19 test result on June 28.
So, he expressed annoyance as he did not receive the result in time.
Alongside Dhiman Das, AH Nur Islam Shah, chairman of Nashratpur union parishad under Chrirbandar upazila, and four others of his family submitted samples.
Since the result delivery took a long time, they tested again on June 19 at Syedpur cantonment booth. The report was negative for them.
However, they received the test result from MARMC on 29 June, after 16 days, and it was positive.
"The report from MARMC came positive for four of my family, including myself. But the report from CMH was negative," said Nur Islam Shah.
He said that they were all are fine and healthy. But they submitted the samples to remove confusion.
He also made the observation that patients will live or die if the Covid-19 test results are delayed.
Seeking anonymity, a nurse serving at the surgery ward of MARMC said, "I had a fever and shortness of breath while on duty on June 21. I gave the sample at 11 o'clock on the same day. The report of the person who worked with me came back positive."
She said that so far she had not received her report.
"I have tried to get information from the civil surgeon's office, but it was not there, too," she added.
Rajendra Nath Roy of Chapaipur village in Mujatibazar of Bochaganj upazila of the district submitted the sample on June 16.
After 13 days, on June 29, his report came out as Covid-19 positive.
However, he claimed that he had recovered earlier and said, "In the meantime, I have gone to work in the field. I've been with people as well."
Mahmudul Hasan is a resident of Singra Rameshwarpur Dakshinpara village in Ghoraghat upazila. He submitted samples on June 16 for a Covid-19 test at the upazila Health Complex, and received the test result after 13 days, on June 29. The test result was positive.
"By the time I received the result as positive, I had completely recovered. I tested again at Sheikh Fazilatunnessa Hospital the next day and the report was negative. But my residence has been locked down," he said.
Many of the locals alleged that they get the result after 10 – 15 days.
They are of the opinion that they recover from the symptoms by the time they get the test results. But they are asked to stay at home, and at times they are socially ostracised.
Dhiman Das, the journalist of Khansama upazila said, "I was told to stay at home. But why should I stay indoors when I am fit? I got the result after a delay and that is not my fault."
He also said that everyone around him stopped talking to him when he was found to be Covid-19 positive.
On condition of anonymity, a medical staff member serving at the RT-PCR lab of the microbiology department at MARMC said, "We are trying to speed up the reports. We can test 188 samples in 24 hours."
The man also said, "But 300 to 350 samples arrive daily from Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur and Nilphamari districts. We test all the samples according to serial number. But due to lack of capacity, it is not possible to test all the samples."
Dr Shah Mohammad Ezaz ul Haque, Dinajpur District Corona Control Room Assistant and Medical Officer of the civil surgeon's office, said that both the reports of that UP chairman were correct.
"Since he gave the sample on June 13, he had coronavirus in his body at that time. But he tested again on the 19th and the report was negative because there was no virus in his body," he added.
It's an usual event since he gave the sample on June 13 at MARMC, his sample came back positive, he said.
Abdul Quddus, civil surgeon of Dinajpur said that the first coronavirus positive report came in Dinajpur on April 14.
"The samples arrive at this lab from all places in four districts including Dinajpur. Two shifts in a day can test 188 samples altogether. So it is seen that around 800 to 1,000 samples are piled at the end of the week."
So there is a delay in delivering the report, he said, adding that the problem will be solved if the number of labs are increased.