Kudos to the Health Ministry for getting the number of Covid-19 infected cases down to single digits in the last few days.
Carrying out tests to determine the number of confirmed cases is very important to understanding the spread of the pandemic and then responding appropriately. This will ensure that the risk of spread remains under control.
The number of confirmed cases a day depends on how much a country actually tests. The more tests conducted, the higher the probability of detecting more cases. So the crux of the matter is the number of tests that is being carried out daily. Put it simply: no tests, no new cases.
On June 4, the number of confirmed cases shot up to 277, but on June 10, only two cases were detected, and seven the day before. My key concern is the number of tests carried out on these days. If the same number of tests is carried out on each of those days, then we can be relieved that the situation improved remarkably between June 4 and 10.
The point I am making is that the Health Ministry, in addition to informing the public of new cases each day, should also indicate the number of tests conducted. To be meaningful, the number of new cases daily needs to be compared with the number of tests conducted daily.
As at May 19, Singapore reported that it had conducted over 281,000 tests for Covid-19 on 191,000 unique individuals. This works out to about 49,000 tests per million people. How does Malaysia compare? It would be good if Malaysians are informed of similar comparative figures for this country.
To date, what is the total number of tests that have been conducted in the country?
In addition, it would be good if the Health Ministry could throw light on the following:
- The average number of tests conducted a day;
- What is the country’s daily testing capacity? Are we reaching our maximum lab capacity?
- Who is chosen to undergo tests on a particular day? What are the criteria in choosing those particular people?
- Are the tests conducted at private hospitals included in the total number of tests carried out in a day?
The University Hospital in Petaling Jaya – one of the country’s dedicated Covid-19 centres – is very stringent in terms of who qualifies to be tested. My friend was turned down even though he had a high fever and sore throat.
It would be good for the Health Ministry to state clearly who qualifies to undergo a test at such dedicated Covid-19 hospitals.
One way to reduce the burden on the government is for the Health Ministry to work with private hospitals to come up with a competitive rate for the tests, thus making it possible for a larger number of Malaysians to be tested at their own expense.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.