Dhaka: The Bangladesh government on Thursday approved a low-cost kit, developed by a private health research institute, to detect novel coronavirus cases in a mass scale, amidst reports of crisis of equipment in the country for such tests.
"We have issued a NOC (No Objection Certificate) to import raw materials to prepare the kits," a spokesman of Bangladesh's Drug Administration said.
The Gonoshasthaya Kendra, which developed the kit, had applied for clearance for import of raw materials.
"The government today gave approval to the coronavirus-detection kits and we have already started the process to import the raw materials required," the organisation's founder, Zafrullah Chowdhury, was quoted as saying by the state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) news agency.
"We will start full-scale production in two weeks," he said, adding that each kit would cost Taka 300-Taka 350 ($3.54-$4.13).
According to Gonoshasthaya experts, the kit can examine samples to detect Covid-19 as fast as in 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, the authorities on Thursday tightened travel restrictions in popular tourist destinations.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the government would lock down the most vulnerable areas if the coronavirus outbreak worsened.
With four new cases reported on Thursday, the total number of COVID-19 cases rose to 17, including one death.
Experts opine there is a risk of spread of the disease due to lack of appropriate protection measures, particularly for doctors, staff and patients in hospitals.
Meanwhile, a huge venue for an annual Muslim congregation is being converted as a mass quarantine centre on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka.
The government has already closed all schools banned all social, religious, political and cultural rallies for an indefinite period.
The Supreme Court on Thursday barred police and jail authorities to produce prisoners and suspects in courts for legal proceedings in view of the growing coronavirus infection.