KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has again defended its targeted testing strategy of only screening high-risk groups and locations, which it said has surfaced more confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said about 30 per cent of close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 patients, or high-risk patients-under-investigation, usually test positive, compared to 10 per cent for those linked to the tabligh event at Sri Petaling mosque last month.
Nearly 3 per cent of the 21,466 people from Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) areas tested for Covid-19, or 638 people, showed positive results as of today. The majority of positive cases were foreign nationals at 388 people, compared to 250 Malaysians.
Almost 5.5 per cent of 6,229 students, teachers, and staff from tahfiz schools or madrasah, or 341 people, tested positive for Covid-19 as of yesterday.
About 1.1 per cent, or 139 cases, tested positive out of 12,672 Malaysians screened for Covid-19 as of April 24 upon returning from overseas. Among the 139 confirmed Covid-19 patients, 99 came home from Indonesia, 14 visited the United Kingdom, 13 visited Singapore, five visited Turkey, three came back from the Netherlands, two visited the United States, and one each went to Thailand, France, and Bangladesh.
“This shows that the government’s targeted approach so far has shown the desired results,” Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement.
“It is hoped that this will curb the virus transmission among these high-risk groups. MOH expects more positive cases will be identified as soon as possible, seeing that the targeted approach is still continuing.”
Critics have said that Malaysia may be missing Covid-19 cases in the community as MOH does not do enough testing, unlike other developed countries that run far more daily tests per capita. Paediatrician Dr Musa Mohd Nordin pointed out Friday that Malaysia had a 4.8 test positivity rate in its 3,700 daily tests per million population, compared to 1.9 per cent for South Korea (11,200 tests per million population), and 1.5 per cent for Australia (16,900 tests per million population).
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) cannot be satisfied nor complacent sitting at 4.8 per cent, especially with a population of 6.7 million migrant workers and 175,000 refugees in our backyard,” he wrote.
“Because we are not widely testing, we always end up playing catch-up. The latest being the refugee cluster at the wholesale market in Selayang.”
Health authorities today detected nine new Covid-19 cases in the EMCO area of the Kuala Lumpur wholesale market in Selayang and surrounding areas, leading to a total of 55 confirmed cases in that area.
MOH today reported 38 new Covid-19 cases, leading to a total of 5,780 cases in Malaysia. Active infectious cases are 1,820, all of whom are warded in hospital for at least 14 days after testing positive for the coronavirus, regardless if they need treatment or not.
Thirty-six Covid-19 patients are in the intensive care unit (ICU), including 15 on ventilator support. No new fatalities from the respiratory disease were reported today.
The Health DG also confirmed that a trader from the Taman Megah morning market in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, has tested positive for Covid-19, after Bandar Utama assemblywoman Jamaliah Jamaluddin raised the issue earlier today.
“I was informed there were 60 traders there. We have closed the market. We’ll screen and test all the 60 because they’re considered close contacts. We hope we’ll be able to detect anyone positive,” Dr Noor Hisham said.