Nation this week
Directorate General of Drug Administration allowed Gonoshasthaya Kendra to submit its home-grown rapid test kits for Covid-19 to BSMMU or icddr,b for validation. "The drug administration has written to us saying we can either submit our kits to icddr,b or Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University [BSMMU]," said Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, founder and trustee of Gonoshasthaya Kendra. The DGDA has also written to BSMMU and icddr,b, requesting them to cooperate in the validation process of the kit -- Rapid Dot Blot -- that can test for both antibody and antigen in human blood.
He said Gonoshasthaya also contacted BSMMU, where it wants to submit the kits developed by a team of its scientists -- Bijon Kumar Sil, Nihad Adnan, Raeed Jamiruddin, Firoz Ahmed and Mohibullah Khondoker.This approval by the DGDA is a significant shift from its earlier position that Gonoshasthaya must go through any of the contract research organisations (CROs) to validate the test kit.
Nearly a thousand garment factories outside the capital, which resumed operation haphazardly since April 26, didn't follow the reopening schedule agreed upon at a high-profile meeting, spurring a huge influx of workers to Dhaka and elsewhere amid coronavirus risks. The factories were supposed to reopen in phases and zone-wise in line with the schedule, prepared by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, as decided by government high-ups, leaders of trade bodies of the garment sector, experts and economists at a meeting on April 25.
As per the decision, all the apparel factories that were closed in the second week of this month would follow the reopening schedule and ensure health safety measures for workers. According to the BGMEA schedule, only the garment factories in Dhaka metropolitan area would reopen on April 26 and those outside in phases. But many factories in the industrial belts in Savar, Manikganj, Narayanganj, Gazipur, Narsingdi, Mymensingh and Chattogram started resuming operation haphazardly the same day, ignoring the schedule.
The government's borrowing from the banks to meet budget deficit increased to Tk 57,929.3 crore as of April 29 this fiscal year due to a dismal revenue collection amid the global coronavirus outbreak. Experts cautioned that the government's bank borrowing would increase further in the coming months as the coronavirus outbreak had brought the country's economic activities almost to a halt, leaving the National Board of Revenue to witness a hefty revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year.
In the budget for the fiscal year 2019-2020, the government projected to borrow Tk 47,364 crore from the banking sector. The latest borrowing figure showed that the government's bank borrowing had already exceeded the target by Tk 10,565.3 crore with another critical two months of the fiscal year remaining. In the July-March period of FY20, the NBR collected Tk 1,66,007 crore in revenue, leaving another 45 per cent of its annual target to be collected in just three months.
The Directorate General of Health Services allowed three private hospitals - Evercare Hospital, formerly known as Apollo Hospitals, Square Hospitals and United Hospital - to run COVID-19 tests. Health services additional director general Nasima Sultana made the disclosure in her daily online bulletin. Although she said that the private hospitals would conduct the test for government-fixed charge, she did not disclose the amount.
DGHS COVID-19 Integrated Control Room in the afternoon issued a release stating that the private hospitals could collect samples for COVID-19 tests from inpatient department only at the cost of Tk 3,500 (including the cost of kit). The government kept the testing facilities at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research only until the last week of March.
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