The private clinic has been suspended for rule violations amid surging Covid-19 cases
The government has suspended services at Praava Healthcare Centre and it is unclear when they will be resumed, amid surging numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the country.
Services at the private clinic were temporarily suspended over reported rule violations, including the charging of Tk150 extra for Covid-19 tests as well as the donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the same room.
Dr Farid Hossain Miah, director (hospitals and clinics) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), confirmed that services at the clinic had been temporarily suspended, not permanently.
"Our team investigated and found some irregularities at Praava Health. As a consequence, we decided to suspend it temporarily,” he told Dhaka .
When asked if Praava Health was working to resolve the issues raised by the DGHS and when the clinic would be reopened, Dr Miah said: “We will see.”
He added that the DGHS had shut down three more healthcare providers since the pandemic began.
Praava Health CEO Sylvana Q Sinha and Communication Head Kutub Kamal could not be reached for comment. As of Friday, a notice on the Praava website said: “Praava Health will remain closed temporarily due to unavoidable circumstances. We look forward to serving you soon.”
The Medical Practice and Private Clinics and Laboratories (Regulation) Ordinance, 1982 allows the government to suspend services at private clinics for rule violations, considering the clinics had been served with show cause notices first.
When asked if Praava Health had been served with a show cause notice before being suspended, Dr Farid Hossain Miah said he did not wish to comment on the matter, saying only that action had been taken with the permission of the director general of the DGHS.
Dhaka Tribune has been given to understand that all the issues mentioned in the DGHS probe report on Praava Health were resolved internally before Eid-ul-Azha.
Following news reports on the suspension of the private clinic, many citizens expressed support for Praava Health on social media.
One client of the clinic said: “I am a regular patient [at Praava Health]. The doctors are cordial and friendly. This temporary shutdown is unfortunate. I hope they will be back in service soon. Very sad for the organization, especially in this Covid situation.”
Another social media user criticized the shutdown of a healthcare facility when the country’s healthcare system and Covid-19 testing capacity were being strained by the surging number of infections.
In 2020, the DGHS directed the authorities of Regent Hospital to shut down their Uttara and Mirpur branches over their involvement in issuing fake Covid-19 certificates.
How rare are false positives?
The investigation into Praava Health was launched after Mahfuz Shafique, the son of former law minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed, alleged that Praava Health had provided false reports of Covid-19 tests.
He said that on July 7, his wife and two daughters gave samples to Praava Health for Covid-19 tests and all three returned positive.
On July 8, Mahfuz Shafique provided the samples of 20 people, including his family, to the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research. On July 9, they were all declared negative for Covid-19 by the IEDCR.
False positives for tests are very rare but not impossible. False negatives are equally likely, according to health experts.
“A Covid-19 positive case, if tested 10 days after a person has contracted the virus, will be negative. SARS-CoV-2 virus does not exist after 10 days in the human body in most cases. If it is found positive by RT-PCR, that virus cannot replicate. Its parts may be detected in the RT-PCR test,” IEDCR Advisor Mushtaq Hussain told Dhaka Tribune.
Dr Paul Birrell, a statistician at the Medical Research Council's Biostatistics Unit at the University of Cambridge, told BBC: "The false positive rate is not well understood and could potentially vary according to where and why the test is being taken. A figure of 0.5% for the false positive rate is often assumed."
An article published by Harvard Health Publishing Senior Faculty Editor Robert H Shmerling said: “The false positive rate — that is, how often the test says you have the virus when you actually do not — should be close to zero. Most false-positive results are thought to be due to lab contamination or other problems with how the lab has performed the test, not limitations of the test itself.”
A research group at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern in Switzerland has found that approximately 20% of asymptomatic people who test positive for Covid-19 will remain asymptomatic.