Experts said with more tests, Bangladesh will have a better idea about the number of Covid-19 patients, and it will be easier for the country to take the next step
In a 24-hour period, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) tested 434 samples collected from across the country, and identified nine more people who tested positive for Covid-19.
So far, it is the largest number of tests carried out and the biggest number of coronavirus patients identified in Bangladesh in the span of 24 hours.
This clearly indicates that as the testing ramped up, the number of identified Covid-19 patients went up too.
According to experts, increasing the number of coronavirus tests is a positive move. With more tests, Bangladesh will have a better idea about the number of Covid-19 patients here, and it will be easier for the country to take the next step.
Speaking to The Business Standard, Prof Muzaherul Huq, former adviser to WHO's Southeast Asia region said, "The more tests are carried out, the safer we will become. The more patients we can identify, the more it will help employ safety measures.
"We must raise awareness among the people and get them involved with the process."
Sources said the health directorate collected 553 samples from nine centres in Dhaka and five centres outside the capital between 8am on Friday and 8am on Saturday.
The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) collected 126 samples, and other centres collected 417 samples. Of them, 434 samples were tested during the 24-hour period.
Earlier, the IEDCR used to be solely responsible for performing coronavirus tests, but now 14 other centres are carrying out the tests.
Professor Dr Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) and virology expert, said, "We are at the community transmission stage. Increasing the scope of the tests will help us determine the next step.
"However, efforts must be made to minimise the people's suffering when getting tested for the coronavirus. A number of facilities, such as the Shishu hospital, are not accepting samples for testing. This is causing undue sufferings to the people."
Professor Dr Nazrul Islam added that a mistake was made by sending the returnees from abroad into home quarantine. So, proper steps must be taken now by increasing the scope of tests.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also put a greater emphasis on testing. She on Thursday directed authorities concerned to carry out at least 1,000 tests for coronavirus per day.
Besides, Health Minister Zahid Maleque has invited people to get tested for the coronavirus.
At press briefing on Friday, the minister said, "There is no shortage of kits in the country. We will continue to perform the tests. It is the only way to learn how many people have got infected through community transmission. So, this is very important.
"There is no social stigma against getting tested, and we can gradually get rid of the novel coronavirus through testing. Now is the time work towards prevention. Our action now will determine the future. We have to work together to safeguard our good health."
Adding that 28 hospitals across the country are providing healthcare and tests for Covid-19 patients, Zahid Maleque said the government will gradually introduce testing facilities to every medical college hospital in Bangladesh.
Responding to a query, DGHS Director General Abul Kalam Azad said the number of coronavirus tests will be increased because of the ongoing community transmission.
"We will meet with experts to decide the next course of action," he added.
The health directorate data show there are currently 70 Covid-19 patients in the country as of Saturday. Two more people died in the last 24 hours, increasing the death toll to eight.
The mortality rate from Covid-19 is much higher in Bangladesh than the world average. Bangladesh has a mortality rate of 12.9 percent, while the world average in 5.4 percent.
During a press briefing on Saturday, IEDCR Director Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora said, "Among the nine who tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, samples of eight persons were tested by the IEDCR, while the remaining one sample was tested in a lab outside Dhaka.
"We have the contact history of five people and another two came into contact with people returning from abroad. We are trying to get more details about the remaining two patients."
DGHS sources said Bangladesh currently has 71,000 coronavirus testing kits and one lakh more will arrive in the country within the next Wednesday.
Test report delivery from Dhaka to Barishal takes 7 days
A man, 40, who died at the Sher-e-Bangla Medical College and Hospital in Barishal, and five others who came into contact with him, have tested negative for the coronavirus.
Samples collected from them were sent to the IEDCR on March 28, but the report arrived on Saturday.
The people, who were kept isolated at the coronavirus unit of the facility, will now be released, said Dr SM Bakir Hossain, director of the hospital.