BRAC has launched antigen-based Covid-19 rapid testing in nine cattle markets under the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) from today on Sunday (18 July). The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) is providing necessary support to set up one Surokkha corner in each of these cattle markets where BRAC staff is carrying out the sample collection service. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) of the Government of UK is supporting BRAC and DGHS in this effort.
DNCC mayor Atiqul Islam inaugurated the operations of Surokkha corners at the cattle market at Sayeednagar in Bhatara about 11am this morning. Dr Mirna Zaman, manager technical of BRAC’s Health, Nutrition and Population Programme (HNPP), was present, among others at the event. She informed the mayor about the different aspects of this initiative.
Starting from today the service will continue till 20 July (Tuesday), the previous day of Eid, and will be available from 8am to 8pm. Anyone experiencing Covid-19 symptoms like fever, dry cough, fatigue, sore throat and respiratory difficulties, or has been in contact with a confirmed Covid patient, is eligible to undergo the test through Surokkha corners. One has to pay the fee fixed by the government to get the service. Prior registration is not required to give the samples. Each of the Surokkha corners will be able to collect and analyse 150 samples a day.
If the result of a sample analysed via antigen testing comes positive i.e. detects the presence of novel coronavirus, the service seeker will be notified within 30 minutes. Results of a positive patient tested via antigen testing will be uploaded to the website within 3-4 hours.
The nine cattle markets to have these Surokkha corners are: The open space inside the Section-3 of Block-E of Badda Eastern Housing (Aftabnagar), open space adjacent to Kaula Shiyaldanga, open space adjacent to Shahinagar housing (residential) project at Uttarkhan Moinertek, open space from Brindabon to north of BGMEA in Uttara Sector-17, temporary cattle market in Bhatara (Sayeednagar), Rajdhani Housing adjacent to 40-feet Road in Basila Mohammadpur, open space of Shopnodhara housing and Basila Garden City; open space owned by Salam Steel Ltd and Jumuna Housing Co to the north of and adjacent to 300ft Road under Ward-43 and Gabtoli cattle market in Mirpur.
Mayor Atiqul Islam said at the inauguration event, “This is a truly praiseworthy initiative from BRAC at this crisis moment of the pandemic. We are calling on other organisations also to come forward with initiatives as much as they can afford.”
Currently in Bangladesh, for Covid-19 diagnosis RT-PCR tests are done for the majority of samples that take at least 24 hours to deliver results. As antigen tests can deliver results only in 30 minutes, BRAC expects that this method will add pace to the government’s Covid-19 testing operations.
Director of BRAC Health, Nutrition and Population Programme (HNPP) Morseda Chowdhury said, “The cattle markets set up for Eid-ul-Azha are among high risk spots for Corona virus transmission due to mass gatherings. BRAC has joined Dhaka North City Corporation in this effort to reduce the level of vulnerability. We are distributing masks as part of our awareness campaign. The overall risk of contracting the infection will reduce when people who have already contracted Covid-19 will be identified through antigen testing.”
Responding to the government’s call in covid-19 prevention campaign, BRAC’s walk-in kiosks have been collecting samples from the suspected patients since March 11 last year, among which 41 are currently in operation. Additionally, BRAC has been offering antigen-based rapid testing through 16 booths in Dhaka and Chittagong since 24 April this year.