Dhaka hospitals turning away patients with fever, cold needing coronavirus tests

Many patients with fever, cold and breathing problems – which are also COVID-19 symptoms – have gone untreated as the hospitals in Dhaka are sending them to the IEDCR for coronavirus test. But the agency says the test is available for only returnees or their close contacts.

Obaidur Masumbdnews24.com
Published : 18 March 2020, 10:56 PM
Updated : 18 March 2020, 11:20 PM

Shahani Khatun took her 14-year-old son to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research on Wednesday for the coronavirus test as prescribed by the doctors for outpatients at the Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital.

“They [doctors] insisted that there would be no need for writing about the test in the prescription. They said the test would be conducted here whenever we come. But the people here [IEDCR] say they don’t conduct the test,” a confused Shahani said.

‘Ubaidul’, an employee of a firm at Banani, said doctors at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital had sent him to Kurmitola General Hospital for coronavirus test.

The Kurmitola hospital forwarded him to the government’s disease control agency, the lone facility with the capacity to conduct the coronavirus test in Bangladesh.

“The IEDCR says they conduct the test only on returnees,” the patient with flu-like symptoms said.

Sanjida Chaity alleged in a Facebook post that the Square Hospital denied her mother treatment saying the government had instructed it to send all patients with breathing problems to the hospitals where suspected COVID-19 patients are kept in isolation.

She had called the IEDCR on its hotlines so that the medics could collect specimens but no one received the calls. She then took her mother to the Kurmitola hospital that forwarded them to the IEDCR.

The IEDCR refused to test her mother for the coronavirus, saying it tests people who had recently returned home from abroad or their close contacts.

Mirza Nazim Uddin, the director of the Square Hospital, said they had prescribed the coronavirus test for Chaity’s mother as they had suspected that she had contacted it.

“We had sent her there as per the government instruction that requires us ti inform it if any patient with such symptoms come to us,” he said.

Meerjady Sabrina Flora, the director at the IEDCR, said she was hearing about such incidents for a long time.

“Maybe the doctors refuse to treat these patients out of the fear that they would catch the coronavirus,” she said.

The Suhrawardy hospital has launched an over-the-counter system to prescribe medications to patients with flu-like symptoms to avoid the risk of contacting the coronavirus.

“We are thinking about what we can do to encourage the doctors. Our director for hospitals is looking into the issue. We are trying our best,” Flora said.