Panel: return to free COVID test

The national technical advisory committee on COVID-19 has recommended conducting the coronavirus tests free of cost again at the government hospitals.
It has also recommended a 14-day institutional quarantine for all arrivals from abroad, including the UK where a more infectious variant of the virus has been detected.

The committee made the recommendations at its 25th meeting presided over by its Chairman Professor Mohammad Shahidullah on Monday, according to a statement.

Bangladesh needs to increase the number of tests, especially to detect the asymptomatic cases, the committee said. It has noticed a downward trend in the rate of confirmed infection.

The government began conducting the coronavirus test for free after the pandemic had begun in March. It imposed fees for the test from Jun 29 – Tk 200 if a suspected patient gives the swab at a kiosk and Tk 500 for home sample collection.

The government now charges the suspected patients Tk 100 each for the test when they give the samples at a kiosk after the fees were revised down on Aug 19. The home sample collection fee has been cut to Tk 300.

The committee was pleased with the arrangements for institutional quarantine for the UK arrivals, according to the statement.

It recommended a rethink of the decision to cut the quarantine period to four days from 14 days. It noted that the incubation period of the coronavirus is 14 days during which time the virus can transmit from human to human.

The committee thinks travellers from other countries should also be put into 14-day institutional quarantine as the new coronavirus strain has spread to other countries.