Antigen tests for the rapid detection of the novel coronavirus infection have begun in 10 districts of Bangladesh amid a recent spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque virtually launched the testing process on Saturday.
The tests will be available in the districts of Gaibandha, Munshiganj, Panchagarh, Madaripur, Brahmanbaria, Jashore, Meherpur, Sylhet, Joypurhat and Patuakhali, all of which lacked the RT-PCR testing facilities, reports bdnews24.com.
“The antigen-based tests have been arranged to identify coronavirus patients in quick time. Healthcare services in the country take another step forward with this,” said Maleque.
The minister assured that the antigen tests will be conducted in line with the World Health Organization's guidelines. If a person's antigen test results come back negative for the virus, the sample will be retested using the RT-PCR procedure, he said. The reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR method of Covid-19 diagnosis is considered to be the most reliable in the world.
It has been used in Bangladesh for the last nine months following the outbreak of the coronavirus. However, the RT-PCR tests can take a long time to return a result and is costly too. Moreover, the laboratories required to conduct the test are not available in many places.
Alternatively, the antigen-based rapid tests will speed up the testing process, returning results within half an hour.