Covid-19 Tests Only Enough For Migrant Workers In Red Zones: MOH

The Ministry of Health is using a targeted approach for foreign workers in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — The newly arrived Covid-19 antigen rapid test kits (RTK) are only sufficient to screen foreign workers in red zones with above 40 cases, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said today.

The government has made it compulsory for employers to screen their migrant workers for coronavirus as the nation enters the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) phase, where most businesses are allowed to resume.

When asked about whether there are enough test kits to accommodate mandatory mass Covid-19 screenings, Dr Noor Hisham stressed MOH’s targeted approach in screening the migrant workers in light of the limited number of RTK.

“Again, when we want to look into the test kits, the registered foreign workers in Malaysia, I was informed, at about 2.5 million. In one go, of course we do not have enough test kits,” Dr Noor Hisham said at a press conference today.

“So, we have to focus in terms of targeted approach for foreign workers in Wilayah Persekutuan, for example, or in Selangor. This is our priority; this is what we call targeted approach, and with that we have the capacity. It will take time, surely, but at least we are able to screen them,” he explained.

“We are also moving towards looking at the target group, which means our foreign workers in the construction site, foreign workers in Pasar Borong, for example. These are our cluster. We are using the locality, as well as the target. The target is the foreign workers in the hotspot area or in the red zone area.”

MOH follows the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for Covid-19 testing, and the gold-standard test is the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, which is a cell nucleus-derived method for detecting the presence of a specific genetic material from the Covid-19 virus, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

RT-PCR tests take 24 to 48 hours to yield results at labs, unlike rapid tests that have minutes-long turnaround time and can be done in clinics. Dr Noor Hisham noted that the current 44 laboratories have the capacity to run 20,635 RT-PCR tests.

The MOH has received 50,000 Covid-19 antigen RTK on May 2, and is expecting 50,000 this weekend, while another 100,000 will be delivered next week.

The cost of screening the migrant workers will be the responsibility of either their employers, or the Social Security Organisation (Socso) for contributors to the fund, as announced by Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.

At the press conference today, MOH also provided updates on the Low-Risk Covid-19 Quarantine Centre at the Malaysia Serdang Agricultural Expo Park (MAEPS), which has been operational since April 21.

Services provided at this centre include inpatient wards for Covid-19 patients, emergency resuscitation space, ambulance service, pharmacy service, X-ray service, and pathology laboratory services.

The total capacity of this quarantine centre is 604 beds. It features a lounge, dressing room, prayer room, television, computer and broadband WiFi for patients’ convenience.

Dedicated work area and lounge are also provided for health workers at this centre, and the compound is equipped with closed-circuit camera controls with 24/7 police surveillance.

Since the establishment of the Low-Risk Covid-19 Quarantine Centre for Treatment at MAEPS, the Kuala Lumpur Hospital has been able to resume many of its services, such as elective surgeries, said the DG.

MOH today reported 45 new coronavirus cases, with one imported case and 44 local transmissions, including one from an Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) area. Community transmissions are at 43 today.

The total number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia is 6,428. One new death was reported today; the total number of fatalities from Covid-19 as of today is 107.

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