DHAKA, Bangladesh

The Bangladesh government Monday permitted antigen-based rapid testing at the government health care facilities, said an official order.

The development came amid calls from experts for allowing the antigen testing apart from real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) lab testing to widen the sample testing facility as the South Asian country is still lagging behind in testing COVID-19 samples despite increasing death rate.

Bilkis Begum, deputy secretary of the health service division of the country’s Health Ministry, said: “The ministry permits the antigen testing following recommendations of experts from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and a related interim guidelines from the World Health Organization earlier [Sept. 11] that also recommends for the testing.”

All the government health care facilities, including hospitals, district hospitals, government PCR labs and all government health institutes across the country, will be allowed to have the testing, the ministry circular read.

Meanwhile, the government finalized a draft guideline for the expansion of the COVID-19 testing and other facilities which is waiting a final nod from the government. “Labs for antigen testing will also have to follow the guideline once the draft copy gets approval,” Begum said.

Earlier, DGHS and the National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19, among others, recommended the government introduce antigen testing.

Bangladesh on Monday registered 40 more deaths and 1,705 coronavirus infections, taking the total fatalities count to 4,979 and the tally of infections to 350,621. The recovery rate crossed 73% while the deaths rate rose to 1.42%.

Worldwide, the virus has claimed more than 961,000 lives in 188 countries and regions since first emerging China in December.

The US, India and Brazil are currently the worst-hit countries.

Over 31 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries surpassing 21.2 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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