The government has decided to reduce COVID-19 test fees because many people, especially who are in financial crisis, are reportedly avoiding the test after fees have been imposed.
Health minister Zahid Maleque on Wednesday said that a test seeker would have to pay Tk 100 instead of the present rate of Tk 200 if sample was given to any government hospital or any dedicated test booth, while Tk 300 instead of Tk 500 if he or she wanted his sample to be collected from home by the hospital authorities.
A circular on the new rates may be issued on Thursday or Friday, he said in a briefing.
‘We learnt from our sources and media reports that the poor people are facing problems in tests for financial reasons. I have talked to prime minister and she gave her consent to reduce the rates,’ Zahid said.
The government on June 29 set the rate arguing that many people were having coronavirus tests without any reason.
The decision was immediately criticised by leading political parties and corruption watchdog Transparency International Bangladesh.
They said that the decision would create a big hurdle for mitigating COVID-19 and demanded that the fee should be revoked without any delay.
The Directorate General of Health Services on July 20 said that the fee imposition was one of the reasons that reduced public interest in tests.
Zahid Maleque at the briefing also claimed that the government was working to install testing laboratories in every district of the country.
‘We are also working to allow antigen and antibody tests,’ he said adding that there were 87 PCR machine-based testing laboratories and they had no shortage of testing kits.
The minister also said that they were negotiating with the UK, China, Russia, USA and Germany to get vaccines.
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