MOH To Use Rapid Tests For Higher Targeted Virus Screenings

By CodeBlue | 16 April 2020

Health authorities have declined to publish their various Covid-19 epidemiological models.

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has purchased antigen rapid test kits from South Korea that it hopes to use to increase testing in targeted populations and locations.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said MOH has ordered procurement of the South Korean test kit, with an 84.4 per cent sensitivity, that can hopefully be used in Malaysia by next week or so.

This antigen rapid test kit can be used wherever people are in clinics or hospitals, without having to send samples to the 43 laboratories in Malaysia. All facilities need are biosafety cabinets.

“Now that we have a test kit that is portable, fast, and cheap, probably with that, we can increase the screening in our targeted population and targeted location,” Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference.

“We hope the next one week will make a difference for us to bring down the case further apart from what’s done in MCO (Movement Control Order) 1 and 2. Because of MCO 1 and 2, we did not see an exponential surge of cases.

“Hopefully by doing so, we can maintain and reduce cases from time to time. And when we reduce it further and hopefully, when we reduce it further, hopefully we are able to contain the transmission of Covid-19.”

When asked about claims that MOH was not doing mass testing, Dr Noor Hisham replied that health authorities were doing so, but only at targeted high-risk groups or locations, such as the current 28 coronavirus clusters in the country or those related to the tabligh gathering at Sri Petaling mosque last month.

MOH has tested more than 90,000 people so far, out of which 5.4 per cent, or 5,182, tested positive for Covid-19.

“Certain locations we notice an increase in cases, then we’ll enhance lockdown in that area, the Enhanced MCO (EMCO). And we have four areas. Hopefully we can enhance in that area, in that area we’ll screen everyone.”

When asked about MOH’s epidemiological models for Covid-19, including the number of projected cases, deaths, and burden on the health care system, Dr Noor Hisham said several models have been used from the start of the outbreak.

“We have our modeling and looking into where we were in the past, where we are now, and projections and forecasts. But we have not shared the modeling with the public. But it’s to guide us,” he said. “This is where preparation comes in.”

The Health DG explained that MOH began preparing for the outbreak since last December, before Malaysia received its first Covid-19 patient on January 25, such as by identifying seven coronavirus-specific hospitals and transferring other medical treatments to district hospitals.

The government, he said, has also worked with private hospitals that have loaned 73 ventilators to MOH. Some public non-coronavirus patients have also been referred to private hospitals at a “reasonable” rate charged to MOH.

Sixty-five specialists from the private sector, like anaesthetists and physicians, have joined the public sector during the Covid-19 epidemic.

“There’s a good chemistry and collaboration between public and private. Now we’re looking at how best we can fight this Covid-19 together, public and private coming together as one.”

MOH today reported 110 new coronavirus cases, leading to a total of 5,182 cases in the country. A total of 119 Covid-19 patients were discharged today, with a total of 2,766 recoveries in Malaysia. One new death was reported today, leading to a total of 84 victims who succumbed to coronavirus.

The number of active infectious cases is 2,332 as of today, which is a figure derived from deducting fatalities and recoveries from the cumulative infections.

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