KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Malaysia is running sufficient Covid-19 tests in the community that matches the World Health Organization’s (WHO) benchmark, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said today.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Malaysia’s case positivity rate is 9 per cent, excluding pending test results, matching WHO’s benchmark of a 10 per cent case positivity rate.
A 10 per cent case positivity rate means that one out of 10 people tested yields a positive result. A high case positivity rate indicates that there are many more undetected coronavirus cases, whereas a low figure signifies sufficient testing in the community to pick up all Covid-19 cases.
According to Dr Noor HIsham, 45,378 coronavirus tests have been done to date, out of which 3,333 tested positive, accounting for 7.3 per cent. Some 7,000 tests are still pending results, which would yield a 9 per cent case positivity rate if pending tests are excluded.
“Which means, in our community, our testing is adequate,” Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference.
“We do not expect to test 30 million of our population, but at least this is the sample, guidelines given by WHO. If 10 tests, one positive, then that shows we’re within the benchmark of WHO.”
Some medical professionals have claimed that Malaysia is not testing enough for Covid-19. Paediatrician Dr Musa Mohd Nordin tweeted earlier today that Malaysia’s coronavirus tests are 1,579 per million population, compared to Singapore (6,000 per million population), South Korea (6,500 per million population), and Australia (9,000 per million population).
“So it would seem from this comparative data that Malaysia needs to ramp up testing by 4-6X if it wants to flatten #COVID19 epidemic curve. Hopefully testing at private hospitals and now initiated at the 10 universities will help to boost the numbers,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham said today that health authorities started with 3,000 samples a day at 18 MOH hospitals. But testing labs have now increased to 43, including MOH hospitals, the Institute of Medical Research (IMR), five public health labs, seven private labs, the Malaysian Genome Institute, a Malaysian Armed Forces lab, and 14 university labs. The capacity in the 14 university labs, he said, will be given a few days to increase capacity as they just started.
“We expect them to do 2,000 to 3,000 cases in the next couple of days,” he said, referring to the university labs. “We can increase capacity to 16,500 [daily] using the RT-PCR test.”
Dr Noor Hisham added that MOH is hoping to test a few more test kits, as the latest antigen rapid test kit it examined only had a 56 per cent accuracy. MOH wants test kits with higher than 75 to 80 per cent accuracy.