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COVID-19: New cases take Bangladesh tally to 20

Government confirms 3 new cases in country, hospital to locally produce coronavirus testing kits

Md. Kamruzzaman   | 20.03.2020
COVID-19: New cases take Bangladesh tally to 20

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Three new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Bangladesh on Friday, raising the country’s total to 20, according to government data.

The figures were published in the latest health bulletin of the government-run Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control, and Research.

The country has reported one death due to COVID-19, a 70-year-old man who passed away on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the government declared a lockdown in Shibchar, an area about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital Dhaka.

“We are ready to shut down more areas if needed to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” said Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque, adding that the army would be running two isolation centers in Dhaka.

He said leaves of all doctors and other health workers had also been canceled until further notice.

Local testing kits

As Bangladesh looks to expand its coronavirus testing capacity, one of the country’s oldest health facilities claims it will soon start local production of an inexpensive and effective testing kit.

“We have sought the government’s permission and are working on the project. We hope to be able to produce and supply the kits by April,” Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, the founder of the Gonoshasthaya Kendra Health Center, told Anadolu Agency on Friday.

He said the kit would drastically reduce the cost of the test and also the time taken for results.

“The cost of testing a person with this kit will be 250 Bangladeshi taka [less than $3] and it will provide the result in just 15 minutes,” he said.

“We are hopeful that the raw materials for the kits will be imported within the coming week and full-scale production will start by April.” 

COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 163 countries and territories. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

Out of more than 247,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 10,000, and over 86,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the rising number of cases, most who become infected suffer only mild symptoms and recover.

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