Development organisation BRAC is assisting the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to install walk-in sample collection booths (kiosks) in novel coronavirus hotspots across Bangladesh.
Primarily, kiosks will be set up in Dhaka by the next week to help speed up the process of sample collection. Fifty more kiosks will be set up across the country soon.
In line with the DGHS directives, BRAC is currently recruiting medical technologists, installing kiosks, collecting samples and transferring those samples to designated testing labs under the supervision of the health directorate, said a BRAC press release on Tuesday.
The health directorate is supporting BRAC to train up the technologists and providing sample collection kits to the development organisation. A memorandum of understanding will be signed soon in this regard between BRAC and the health directorate.
While kiosks at hospitals will be operated by the staff of respective medical facilities, two trained medical technologists from BRAC will be collecting samples at each kiosk installed elsewhere.
The sample collection will continue between 9am and 12pm from Saturday to Thursday.
Medical samples of 40 people with coronavirus-like symptoms will be collected from a single walk-in collection booth every day. Then the samples will be sent to health directorate authorised testing facilities.
Prior to the test, the suspected Covid-19 cases will have to fill-up forms providing personal information. Test results will be sent to respective individuals via text messages.
The suspected patients will have to go through two phases for the test.
Initially, paramedics will screen them according to national definition of cases. Then, kiosks located in medical colleges, hospitals or adjacent to these facilities will collect samples from patients referred to them.
Elderly people, people with existing comorbidities, frontline medical personnel and people working in closed settings will be prioritised for sample collection given the constraint in resources.
"We will set up 100 walk-in kiosks across 19 hotspots to expedite the government's initiative of scaling up testing capacity along with the government's ongoing activities. Half of these kiosks will be set up in Dhaka," said Morseda Chowdhury, associate director of BRAC's Health, Nutrition and Population Programme.
Morseda Chowdhury added that 17 kiosks have been installed at 14 spots in Dhaka as of May 11. Installation of the other booths is in progress.
The institutions where the kiosks are already in operation include the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Memorial KPJ Specialised Hospital & Nursing College, Sheikh Hasina Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute, Government Unani and Ayurvedic Medical College and Hospital and Uttara Adhunik Medical College.
Besides, kiosks are collecting samples at a number of Dhaka city corporation community centers. Two of those are adjacent to slums to serve the low-income population.
On Monday, Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud inaugurated a kiosk on the Dhaka Reporters Unity premises dedicated to collect samples from journalists for Covid-19 tests.
Another kiosk will be inaugurated at the Jatiya Press Club soon.