The Bangladesh-origin UK citizen couple Mrs Dilruba Zaman and Mr Akhtaruzzaman spent a sleepless night on July 24 as one of them had tested positive for Covid-19.
The couple was scheduled to board a Bangladesh Biman flight to the UK for a medical check-up on July 26. As per a government order, all Bangladeshi citizens – and foreign nationals who stayed in the country for more than 14 days – departing from any airport in Bangladesh, on any airline, must show their Covid-19 PCR test results at the time of check-in – for samples provided 72 hours before the trip.
Mrs Dilruba and her husband gave their samples at the National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre in Dhaka on July 24.
The following day, their manager went to the lab to collect the reports. However, when he finally received the reports, after waiting for 7 hours, they only brought mental agony for the Zaman family.
Though Mr Zaman tested negative, Mrs Zaman was found positive for the virus. "I was panicked thinking that all of my family members are now at risk. We could not sleep that night," Dilruba Zaman, a retired international school teacher, told The Business Standard.
"To our surprise," Mrs Zaman said, "my sex was referred to as male, in the report, and my husband's age was written as 14,613!"
To get a second opinion, she took the test for a second time – this time at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh – at 8 am on July 26, the day when she was supposed to be at the airport. The report came back negative this morning.
"Within 48 hours, I tested negative for the virus. All of the mental torture and financial hassle were for nothing!" said the former teacher.
"Further, not everyone can afford to test for the virus twice," she complained.
"I think the authorities who signed the report should be held accountable. Just by taking a second look at the paper, they could have fixed the ridiculous mistakes regarding age and sex."
Dr Md Habibur Rahman, director, Management Information System of DGHS, said in an angry tone, "Who asked her to take the second test? Did we ask? The Health Service Division under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has selected 16 hospitals across the country to test Covid-19 for the passengers who will travel abroad. And the report given by any of these hospitals will be the final answer."
For taking longer than the usual amount of time to provide reports, he said, "Sometimes technical problems, such as a server being down, are the reason that we cannot deliver the report on time."
When asked about anomalies regarding sex and age, he said, "We input data manually. For this reason, that can happen. However, if anyone complains, we fix the problem."