The Dhaka University authorities on Monday shut down its lone COVID-19 testing lab apparently due to economic crisis and safety concerns as the university resumed its limited administrative activities on Sunday.
Earlier, on May 5, vice-chancellor Professor Akhtaruzzaman inaugurated the lab, approved by the health ministry, at the university which had the capacity to conduct 400 tests a day.
The lab did not collect samples, rather tested those provided by the IEDCR or other designated institutions.
However, the VC denied any economic crisis and said that they had to run the university in a process and they had previously informed the health ministry that they could run the lab till May 31.
He further said that 'the university is not a hospital rather an educational institution and so they have to resume their research activities as the lab equipment was brought together from various departments. So they could not run the lab anymore'.
Asked, Directorate General of Health Services additional director general Nasima Sultana said that COVID-19 tests at the DU lab remained stopped for a few days as they were not willing to continue the tests any longer.
Asked about the reason, she said that they wanted incentives for their workforce employed at the lab.
‘We’ve forwarded their application for incentives to the health ministry but got no response from the ministry yet.’
She said that the DGHS provided the DU lab with all the logistics to conduct the tests.
Some 10-12 teachers and 15-20 students were engaged in the lab who worked there voluntarily while the university had to spend Tk10 to 15 lakh to run the lab for a month, which was a burden on the university, according to the university authorities.
Sharif Akhtaruzzaman, professor of genetic engineering and biotechnology at the university and the chief of the university’s Coronavirus Response Technical Committee, said that time and again they had informed the health ministry about the expenses but did not get any positive response.
A week after the country reported its first COVID-19 cases on March 8, the DU authorities first suspended all academic activities till March 28 and later the suspension was extended for an indefinite period.
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