Bangladesh on Saturday launched antigen-based rapid testing in districts for detecting Covid-19.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque inaugurated the antigen testing through a videoconference with 10 districts in the morning.
The 10 districts are Gaibandha, Munshiganj, Panchagarh, Madaripur, Brahmanbaria, Jashore, Meherpur, Sylhet, Joypurhat and Patuakhali districts.
He said there is no PCR testing facility in the country’s districts due to lack of bio-safety labs. “Now, it’ll be possible to test more samples through antigen tests and the results will be available soon.”
“Testing is important to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The antigen test is being carried out as per WHO guideline,” he added.
Already, three doctors have been given training to start the test and about 500 test kits arrived in the country on Thursday, he said.
Dr Abdul Motin of Patuakhali 250-bed hospital said a medical team was formed to conduct the test. Till noon, three people gave their samples and all of them tested negative, he said.
On September 21, the government allowed antigen-based rapid testing for Covid-19 at hospitals and health institutes across Bangladesh. Ministry of Health made the announcement after issuing a circular on September 17 in this regard.
Antigen-based testing has been permitted at all government hospitals, district hospitals, government PCR labs and all health institutes as per the proposal of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and the interim guideline of the World Health Organization, according to the circular.
On July 5, DGHS wrote to Health Ministry to allow antigen-based Covid-19 testing. The National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 also recommended it several times.
According to the DGHS proposal, antigen tests would be carried out on patients with symptoms. If anyone is found positive, the patient would be isolated.
But if anyone is found negative in the antigen tests, they would be tested again by RT-PCR or GeneXpert machine for confirmation.