KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — Malaysia’s daily testing capacity for the coronavirus is now 38,236 tests per day, said Dr Adham Baba.
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) has successfully increased the testing capacity of the RT-PCR Covid-19 lab test from 1,000 tests per day in January 2020 to 38,236 tests per day now,” the health minister told the Dewan Negara in his written parliamentary reply on September 14.
The health minister was replying to Senator Donald Peter Monjuntin (UPKO), who asked the former to state if Malaysia has adequate capacity in terms of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, testing capacity, as well as contact tracing in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Adham previously told the Senate that Malaysia has screened 1,312,886 individuals as of September 8, bringing Malaysia’s Covid-19 testing rate to 41.0 per 1,000 people.
Deputy Health Minister II Aaron Ago Dagang told the Dewan Rakyat last month that the laboratory network across the country is able to provide a maximum capacity of 38,600 tests per day.
However, Aaron said that on a daily basis, MOH only conducts a total of 5,000 to 6,000 tests per day, as he pointed out then that despite screening over 1.6 million individuals, the positivity rate is very low, less than one per cent.
According to Dr Adham, there are currently 58 laboratories across the country that are able to conduct the RT-PCR test with a capacity of 38,236 tests per day. The 28 MOH labs comprise 18 hospital labs, one national public health lab, four public health labs, and one from the Institute for Medical Research. On top of that, there are two army labs, one Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) lab, and 13 private labs that are also able to conduct the Covid-19 RT-PCR test.
Besides that, the health minister pointed out that the requirement for 18 types of PPE, which are needed in carrying out prevention and control activities, has dramatically increased between two and 30 times.
“An emergency procurement procedure was implemented in early February this year in MOH to accommodate the significant increase in these needs, besides the procurement procedure implemented at each facility level itself,” the health minister told the Dewan Negara.
“MOH also received PPE contributions from various concerned parties that also fought in the war against Covid-19 in this country.”
Dr Adham also highlighted that currently, the PPE stock available in MOH hospitals and clinics can last for at least two months and continuous monitoring on the PPE stock levels is still being carried out every working day.
Furthermore, through the implementation of the emergency procurement procedure, MOH has managed to increase its respiratory ventilators by 855 units (552 units through procurement and 303 units through donations), bringing the total number of respiratory ventilators at all MOH facilities to 1,364 units.