Laboratories of four public universities are ready to conduct coronavirus detection tests.

These are Dhaka University, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Jashore University of Science and Technology and Chattogram Veterinary and Animal Science University.

Health and family planning ministry on Thursday issued a notice in this regard after the universities had shown interest in conducting the tests at their own laboratories.

According to the letter signed by deputy secretary of the medical education and family welfare division, Md Moniruzzaman Bakaul, the secretary of the secondary and higher education division recently informed medical education and family welfare division’s secretary that the laboratories of the four universities were equipped with real time PCR machines required to test coronavirus.

The letter also said that the secondary and higher education division secretary thinks that the laboratories can start testing COVID-19 sample upon the required assessment test of infrastructures of those laboratories.

The health ministry has asked the relevant authorities to take necessary measures to this end, the letter added.

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Prothom Alo contacted the vice chancellors of the four universities. They said they had informed the ministry about their capabilities to test COVID-19 and they are ready to conduct tests at their facilities.

JUST VC Md Anwar Hossain said they are ready to conduct tests at their university laboratory from this week. The tests would be conducted under supervision of the genetic engineering and biotechnology department.

They now need safety personal protective equipment (PPE), kits and samples, said Anwar Hossain.

Once started, the university would be able to conduct 100 to 200 tests every day, he added.

JUST VC also said Khulna divisional health officer and district civil surgeon will also be part of the initiative.

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Vice chancellor of Dhaka University Akhtaruzzaman told Prothom Alo that the university sent a letter to the health and family planning ministry expressing their willingness to conduct the test. DU thinks that biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacy and genetics engineering departments’ laboratories can be used for testing.

The university is also interested in making COVID-19 testing kits.

The DU earlier formed COVID-19 response team headed by genetic engineering department’s professor Sharif Akhtaruzzaman.

SUST VC Farid Uddin Ahmed said that genetic engineering and biotechnology department and biochemistry department of the university have real time PCR machines at their labs. The university can conduct at least 100 tests every day.

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He said around 15 teachers of SUST are ready to work.

SUST VC also said they do not need a big investment to prepare the labs for conducting testing.

The university can also take protective measures on their own, Farid Uddin added.

Chattogram Veterinary and Animal Science University’s vice chancellor Gautam Buddha Das told Prothom Alo that they can conduct 200 tests every day at their laboratory.

A team of the molecular biology department will conduct the test, he added.

Initially, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) was the only COVID-19 testing facility of the country, but the number of such facilities has been extended to 17 places now.

Still, not even half of the demand for tests could be met.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has been stressing the importance of an increased number of tests to fight COVID-19.

The piece has been rewritten in English by Galib Ashraf.

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