The setting up of RT-PCR laboratories at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport are almost complete to conduct pre-departure testing for passengers.
As of Friday evening, civil aviation and airport sources said that 90 per cent work in setting up the laboratories including the installation of RT-PCR machines have been completed.
They also expect to complete the rest of the work, such as setting up computers, wirings and trials, by Friday night.
“We are fully prepared. However, our monitoring cell and technical committee will look into the technical aspects of these machines. If everything is fine after initial tests, the laboratories will have to conduct a final trial,” Dr Shahriar Sajjad, health officer at Dhaka airport told The Business Post.
“If everything is okay after the trial, then our ministry and health department will jointly give their final approval. After that, we can start operating these labs for testing passengers,” he added.
“Hopefully, we can complete all procedures by tonight,” he further added.
Earlier on Thursday, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said UAE-bound passengers can avail Covid-19 testing facilities at RT-PCR labs set up at the airport from Saturday onwards.
The minister also informed that a total of 12 testing machines will be set up at these six labs, which would be able to serve some 3,500-4,000 passengers daily.
The RT-PCR testing laboratories are being set up at the men’s prayer room on the ground floor of Terminal-1 of the airport and samples will be collected from the second floor of the same building from a room which is now being used as a godown. According to the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has made it mandatory for passengers from Bangladesh to depart within six hours of taking an RT-PCR test at the airport.
Earlier on September 14, the health ministry approved seven private laboratories to set up RT-PCR booths to test outgoing passengers for Covid-19 at HSIA.
Already, six of these private laboratories have already sent their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to the UAE for approval.
The six approved private laboratories are — Gulshan Clinic Limited, Stemz Health Care (BD) Limited Dhaka, CSBF Health Centre, AMZ Hospital Limited, Anwar Khan Modern Medical College Hospital (AKMMCH), and DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostics.
Only Zainul Haque Sikder Women’s Medical College Hospital did not send its SOP, which resulted in its exclusion from the UAE list.
Meanwhile, sources at the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh said even if any of the government approved companies do not meet UAE’s requirement, they will still be able to operate inside the airport for other international destinations. The expatriates’ welfare ministry has fixed the test fees. The laboratories would enable passengers to undergo Covid-19 tests at the booths by paying a minimum of Tk 1,700 to a maximum of Tk 2,300.