There is a long queue in front of the main entrance of Mugda General Hospital. Nobody knows when the gates will open and when they will be allowed to step inside the compound. They are from different age groups and have gathered at the hospital gate to get a PCR test. They are either showing symptoms of coronavirus, or they are accompanying the patient – who is probably unfit to make this miserable journey alone. But one thing every one of them have in common – they are not affluent and cannot get tested in private facilities.
So, they wait – sweating in the scorching heat, for the gateman to open the doors and announce their name. Some are standing, while those who are elderly or weak sat on stools or wheelchairs.
Children were there too – too scared to run around, too weak to make noise. The entire ambience was marked by misery.
The situation is same in other government hospitals including Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) and Suhrawardy Hospital. The misery of people is clearly visible in each of the government-run Covid-19 testing centres.
As of July 1, Bangladesh confirmed 1,49,258 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. In addition, 1,888 people have died so far since the virus first hit the country in early March. The government had been doing free PCR tests, but an official announcement from the Health Service Division under the Health and Family Welfare Ministry recently stated that from June 29, the government would charge money for every PCR test.
According to the circular of the ministry, the decision was taken in a bid to cut unnecessary tests.