The Covid-19 situation may become worse in Bogura as many sick people here can't get tested fast enough to isolate themselves from family members, colleagues, or others.
People here have to wait for a week to get coronavirus test results, causing a delay in receiving treatment. So far, there is a backlog of around 11,194 coronavirus samples in the two labs of Bogura.
Bogura also has a relatively high mortality rate. So far 427 people here have died of Covid-19.
Here is a snapshot of what is happening in Bogura. Take for example Masum Hossain who works for a private firm in Bogura and one of his colleagues tested Covid positive. He also gave samples for testing when he started exhibiting corona symptoms. But that was eight days ago and he has not got the results yet.
He has been spending the night on the office floor for the last week, fearing that his elderly mother might be infected by him.
Not only Masum, but six other colleagues in the office also gave samples on 27 June. No one's report has come back yet. They are also living in fear for their families.
Some of them say that private institutions don't take so long and that the long delays in test results happen only at public hospitals.
According to the Civil Surgeon's Office, 96,108 samples were collected in Bogura for Covid tests till Monday, 5 July. Of these, 84,914 samples have been tested and 14,693 people have tested positive. 11,194 people in Bogura have not got their test results yet.
The district civil surgeon's office says it has been so late in delivering test results due to the rise in Covid-19 infections this June. Some of the samples have been sent to Dhaka for testing.
At present, 454 Covid patients are being treated in three hospitals and homes in Bogura.
Due to the increase in the rate of corona infection in the third phase, samples were collected from 7,631 people in June alone. Of them, 6,968 people received test reports and more than 1,500 of them tested positive for Covid-19. 663 people have not yet received results.
Corona was tested in two Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) labs in Bogura which have a capacity of testing 376 samples daily. One of them is at Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College (SZMC) & Hospital and the other lab is at the private TMSS Medical College and Hospital.
In addition to these two hospitals, the 250-bed Mohammad Ali Hospital in Bogura has been dedicated to Covid patients.
The civil surgeon's office said around 450 samples are piling up every day at the Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) laboratory of SZMC which can only test 282 samples daily in three shifts. Some samples from the district next to Bogura were also tested here, causing a backlog in sample testing.
The RT-PCR laboratory of the private TMSS Medical College is capable of testing only 94 samples a day. However, the test fee here is Tk3,000 versus Tk200 at the government medical college.
Deputy Civil Surgeon Mostafizur Rahman said there is no backlog of test samples in the district now, though some sample test results may not be available in time due to the increased pressure and some samples are being sent to Dhaka.
Last week, about 1,000 samples were sent to Dhaka for testing. Of these, 674 sample results have come back to Bogura.
Asked if a sample is reliable after eight days, he said it is, for up to 10 days. "That's how we store samples," he said.
However, he said it's not necessary to depend on RT_PCR lab tests alone. Rather, it is very important to test with Rapid Antigen Kit because there is no shortage of those kits here, and the results for those tests can be available in a day.
The directorate general of health services (DGHS), on 15 June, sent a state-of-the-art sample testing machine to SZMC. This is capable of simultaneously testing 386 samples in each shift. However, this machine is not functional yet and the authorities do not know when it will be ready.
SZMC principal Rezaul Alam Jewel said a bio-safety cabinet is needed to set up this modern machine and some more parts are needed to set it up which they have not received yet.
Deputy Civil Surgeon Mostafizur Rahman expressed doubts about whether the device could be set up at all.
This modern device has been given in several districts of the country, but it could not be launched anywhere, he added.