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Improving recovery rates are leading to growing social acceptance and less fear of the virus, but issues with the quantity and quality of testing are continuing. Read the latest on COVID-19.
Dear colleagues, partners and friends,
We are still struggling with the quality of testing after 120 days of the pandemic in Bangladesh. The recent Regent Hospital scandal (detailed later in the report) highlighted the sorry state of the health sector – both in governance and the quality of service in the private sector.
Unfortunately, I experienced this first hand myself, while doing my own tests in both a public and a private sector lab. I received a positive and a negative report in two successive days. This seems to be a growing phenomenon across the board – the increasing inability of the public to rely on lab results.
On the brighter side, the day after my positive results came in, I received a call from the telemedicine section managed by DGHS and a2i, to ensure that I knew I could seek telemedicine support. This gave me comfort – knowing that once someone is in the system, they are being monitored. I am doing well, and not showing any symptoms. I will do a final test at ICDDR,B tomorrow to make sure that I do not have the virus.
Testing kit shortage
The official data seems to show that the infection rate is going back and forth within a range. It is difficult to be specific as testing has steadily dropped.
There will be serious repercussions on Bangladeshis’ ability to travel outside Bangladesh if the quality and quantity issues around testing are not rectified. This was evident last week when a Qatar Airways flight carrying passengers from Dhaka carried almost 30 COVID-19 infected patients, resulting in suspension of passenger entry from Bangladesh for 90 days.
Reports around lack of hospital facilities for patients have reduced, as many patients are deciding to treat themselves at home. There is growing social acceptance and less fear of the virus as recovery rates improve. Our own data of BRAC staff contracting the virus seems to be improving even though we are almost fully operational in the field. A combination of more testing and more accurate data is needed to better understand this changing phenomenon.
COVID-19’s impact on the economy
Two specific things I want to highlight to show the resilience of Bangladeshis:
Asif Saleh is the Executive Director of BRAC Bangladesh.