Many in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country are no longer interested in Covid-19 testing, despite presenting with the symptoms due to the high price of testing in private facilities and a long queue in public hospitals.

In the last 10 days, Bangladesh recorded new cases of Covid-19 daily at a positivity rate exceeding 25 percent, which also includes a day of the highest-ever positivity rate in the country since the pandemic invaded in early 2020.

"I've been suffering from coughing, fever and other ailments which are the symptoms of Covid-19. But I was confused about testing because it costs at least BDT 3000 in private facilities," Saif Bin Ayub, a private sector employee, told the Dhaka Courier.

"I tried in public facilities too, but while I was trying to register through an online process, my cell number was rejected saying that I had tested twice earlier. I'm not sure what was the logic behind that. I had tested twice earlier, it's true, but does it guarantee that I would not need to test again?" he added mentioning that the government facilities only require a nominal price for testing.

Private facilities in Dhaka bill around 3500 for an RT-PCR test. Many of the private facilities also offer home services to collect specimens. In that case, they cost some extra bucks- from 700 to 1500- varying from facility to facility.

In public facilities, an RT-PCR test costs only 100 BDT across the country.

Bangladesh mostly conducts testing through the RT-PCR method which needs kits that cost between BDT 2000 and 3000 in 2020. Over time, the price of the kits came down to under BDT 1000, but the government did not set a new price for testing at the private facilities since May 2020.

Prof Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Committee, has recently told the media that the price of testing should be updated soon in line with the lower price of the kits.

Among the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, India's Delhi capped the price of RT-PCR testing at RS 300 in private facilities, which is around 5-6 times lower than Bangladesh's current rate.

According to the experts, if the testing price is not updated, people will continue to be uninterested to test for Covid-19 and that might lead the country to a catastrophic Covid-19 situation.

As per the latest update, Bangladesh's total cases stand at more than 18 million and more than 28000 deaths have been reported so far.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh is currently going through restrictive measures to curb the spread of the virus which is fueled by the new strain Omicron- offices are ordered to run with half staffing, schools have also been announced close until February 6- which is extended to February 21 through a government notification on Thursday.

As of February 3, Bangladesh inoculated roughly 37 percent of the total population. The authorities have also started to administer booster doses for the people working at the frontline and who are aged 40 or more. And the age bar for being considered for vaccination is brought down to 12.

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