By Hasnat Shahriyar Nahin
Bangladesh approves low-cost test kit to detect Covid-19
The Government of Bangladesh has approved the production of a locally developed low-cost coronavirus (Covid-19) testing kit to tackle the pandemic.
Public health organisation Gono Shasthaya Kendra that runs hospitals and medical research work in the country developed the kit, which requires some chemical reagents that need to be imported.
The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) granted the approval to import raw materials.
The organisation will also submit the kit to the DGDA for final approval of the World Health Organization (WHO) after producing it.
The full-scale production is expected to begin in the next two weeks.
The kit uses the Rapid Blot-Dot technique to detect coronavirus positive cases within 15 minutes. The technique looks for antibodies created in the body in response to the virus infection.
According to the Gano Shasthaya Kendra, the kit will cost approximately BDT250-300.
The standard method of diagnosis of coronavirus is by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR), which uses sequencing from a nasopharyngeal swab or sputum sample.
Meanwhile, the country reported its first coronavirus death this week. The total positive cases of the disease stand at 20, while three people have recovered.
Bangladesh Government has adopted strong measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
The government has closed down all schools and banned mass gatherings. Travel bans have been imposed in all the popular tourist destinations.
By Syed Amar Khan
1,000 FMC Dockyard staff members living, working on-site in Chattogram
The dockyard is also providing its staff with essentials such as food, accommodation, protective clothing, hand sanitiser, and medical checkups
Around 1,000 staff members of FMC Dockyard Ltd in Chattogram are living and working on-site to tackle the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company has arranged to accommodate and feed its staff at the dockyard's dormitories – to minimise their risk of coming in contact with coronavirus patients.
The dockyard is also providing its staff with essentials including protective clothing and hand sanitiser. A medical camp has been set up on-site, and the staff are undergoing body temperature checks twice a day.
The dockyard, which is located in Boalkhali upazila of the port city, is now off limits to all visitors from outside. The shipbuilding company has announced that it will bear all the staff's expenses throughout their stay at the dockyard.
The company launched these special measures on Saturday, which will continue till March 31. The FMC dockyard is spending around Tk2 lakh every day to implement these special measures.
Speaking to The Business Standard, FMC Group's Chairman Mohammad Yasin Chowdhury said, "The prosperity of the company and its staff must be upheld. We had to implement these measures to remain competitive and safeguard our business.
"If we shut down the company, the staff will suffer. So, we opted to continue with daily operations while ensuring the staff's safety. We also granted leaves-of-absence to anyone unwilling to work. All staff will get their salary and allowances during their leave period."
Assistant Engineer Abdullah Al Mahmud, working at the FMC Dockyard Ltd, said, "I used to commute from home to my office every day. Under the special measures our company implemented, I settled into the dockyard dormitory on Saturday."
"We undergo health checkups every day, and work is progressing according to schedule. Anyone feeling ill is receiving the treatment they need," he continued.
Foreman Pavel Barua, of the company's production department, said, "I used to live at the dormitory before the special measures began on Saturday. We are now working while maintaining social distance from each other. Physicians are doing regular checkups.
"The company has distributed masks and hand sanitiser to everyone."
Meanwhile, FMC Dockyard Ltd's Deputy General Manager Uttam Ghosh said, "Around 1,000 staff members – including engineers, welders and technicians – are working to build ships here. We have two dormitories with a capacity of at least 1,000 beds.
"Under normal circumstances, around 500 staff members live at the dormitories, while the rest commute from home. After the coronavirus outbreak began, we made arrangements to accommodate around 1,000 staff members at the dockyard and installed equipment to ensure their safety."
Uttam Ghosh continued, "Apart from supplying protective clothing and hand sanitiser to the staff, we are producing hand sanitiser at the FMC chemical lab. It will be distributed to the staff and their family members."
Praising the initiatives taken by FMC Dockyard Ltd, Dr Sheikh Fazle Rabbi, civil surgeon of Chattogram said, "The dockyard staff must maintain at least 1 metre of space between each other, and frequently use hand sanitiser and masks."
He added, "Anyone suffering from symptoms [of coronavirus] should seek immediate medical attention."
The FMC Dockyard Ltd is located on 80-bighas of land near the bank of the Karnaphuli River. The company manufactures: container ships, tankers, passenger ships, fishing trawlers, dredgers, tug boats, and pontoons.
The dockyard also exports ships when local demand is met.