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Sample collection crisis deepens

IEDCR won’t bring together COVID-19 samples to analyze


Published : 08 May 2020 11:03 PM | Updated : 06 Sep 2020 04:38 PM

Deepening the ongoing mismanagement in collection of sample for Covid-19 test, IEDCR would not collect samples from now on.

It has been alleged that due to the lack of coordination and proper planning among concerned institutions, a state of disorder and  confusion now prevails across the country concerning coronavirus test. 

From the beginning, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and government’s disease monitoring agency Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR)have been jointly managing the pandemic situation without any consultation with experts, alleged concerned sources.

When asked, officials of these organisations denied to comment over the issue. 

On condition of anonymity, several DGHS and IEDCR officials said that the lack of coordination and proper planning between the two institutions is complicating not only sample collection process but also the overall pandemic situation in the country.

They said at present, the volume of community infection is increasing day by day, but the required number of tests is not being carried out.

As a result, they opined, the situation is going out of the control of IEDCR.

In such a situation, the IEDCR expressed its inability to retain the responsibility of the examination, said an official of IEDCR.

The official said the IEDCR had informed the health department that from now on they would no longer collect samples from the general people to diagnose the disease. 

An official of the department of health said that the decision of the IEDCR was taken suddenly and without any prior preparation. IEDCR has stopped collecting samples as they also have packed up the 17 mobile teams they had on the field.

He also informed the IEDCR told that it’s no longer collecting and testing samples.

In the meantime, complications with the collection and testing of corona symptom patients suffering in the country are not over. Anxiety and concern are growing among the people as they are not able to get the test done in time and it is too late to get the results. 

Due to lack of samples, the full capacity of the laboratories is not being utilized. Outside Dhaka, the rate of testing for corona identification is very low. There is no proper collection of samples from village to village due to lack of technologists. 

People in the capital are now going to the laboratories to get tested on their own due to non-response by calling the hotline of the health department or delay in collecting samples. But then again, the authorities are forcingpeople to return due to the lack of necessary manpower.

National committee member of Corona crisis, former Vice Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSSMU) and Chairman of the Department of Virology, Prof Nazrul Islam told that the responsibility of collecting samples and testing has been shifted from the Department of Healthto IEDCR. The department has not yet said what it will do now. 

“The number of patients in the hospitals is increasing. We advised that, first admit the patient, thengo for testing or giving test reports.  What will the patient do if the test report is late? These are the things we have said before.”

However, booths are being set up to collect samples. Samples of 10 thousand are being prepared for testing every day, said the Director General of the Department of Health, Prof. Dr. Abul Kalam Azad. 

The process of collecting samples is similar, he said. 

“We have made arrangements to collect samples at different places all over Bangladesh. Now we are collecting samples from the upazila level. IEDCR is not collecting samples outside Dhaka.”

However, it will take more time to set up the booths, said Morsheda Chowdhury, associate director of BRAC's health, nutrition and population program. 

“We are building booths,” she told The Bangladesh Post. 

“It has not started on a large scale-- 45 in Dhaka city, 100 in Dhaka area and 800 in the whole country. So far, 20 booths have been set up in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Jinjira and Gazipur. A number of technologists will be provided from the government, the restwe're collecting.”

“Aslockdown in progress,people can't come. For now, we are bringing in manpower from another program. All have gone out of Dhaka. Booths are ready and prepared for testing. Now it will a take a little time to manage due to lack of manpower.”