Covid testing lab still not operational
The RT-PCR lab at Patuakhali Medical College Hospital has not started operation even after two years, due to lack of necessary equipment and workforce.
Currently, only a banner hung in front of hospital gates informs people that there should be a lab at the premises. For RT-PCR testing, the samples must be sent to Barishal or Dhaka, and the whole testing process takes seven to 10 days.
The government had taken the initiative to set up the lab in Patuakhali to identify those infected with Covid-19 in a short time. But presently, only antigen tests are being carried out in the district.
If the lab is set up, around 16 lakh Patuakhali residents and 12 lakh dwellers of neighbouring Barguna will be benefitted. Although Covid-19 testing and fatalities have been stable in Patuakhali, the detection rate is increasing yet again. Meanwhile, residents are worried about the Omicron variant.
Mushfiqur Rahman Tuhin, a Patuakhali resident, said, "We have been demanding an RT-PCR lab in Patuakhali since the pandemic's beginning, but the facility is still on paper."
Mostafizur Rahman, acting principal of Patuakhali Medical College, said the lab room is ready, but to start operation eight medical technologists, four data-entry operators, four office assistants and four cleaners are required.
Equipment is also needed for testing. Authorities informed the ministry concerned about this matter two years back, but got no response, he said.