KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) plans to increase the country’s daily Covid-19 testing capacity to 100,000 in the near future.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah stated that the increase in the number of laboratories will soon help to achieve the daily testing target set by the ministry.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, currently there are 68 laboratories nationwide which can increase the daily Covid-19 screening capacity. The country initially had 23 labs only in the past, including three private labs.
“If we look at all the 68 labs including private labs, the capacity will increase to 100,000. Nonetheless, we are looking into new labs,” he told a press conference in Putrajaya.
He added that Malaysia’s RT-PCR testing capacity across 68 labs yesterday was 76,255 tests, but only 47,820 tests were conducted, or 63 per cent of testing capacity.
“For example in Tawau and Lahad Datu, we have implemented and set up the facilities. Other hospitals in Sarawak, for example, or other states, we have to look at the capacity and increase the number of labs,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
CodeBlue reported earlier today that Malaysia was not testing enough for Covid-19, as the test positive rate has exceeded, since November 6 last year, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended five per cent limit.
The Health DG also said that public and private partnership is essential to achieve the ministry’s daily testing target.
Besides MOH, university hospitals, military hospitals, facilities from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) as well as private hospitals have joined hand in hand to increase the country’s Covid-19 testing capacity.
“Our target is to aim for 150,000 tests a day, and I think this is where we have to train more people,” Dr Noor Hisham added.
Dr Noor Hisham also emphasised the importance of integrating public and private health care facilities to handle Covid-19 patients, as he commended several private hospitals in Klang Valley that have already started to treat patients infected by the coronavirus.
At the same time, Dr Noor Hisham mentioned that health care workers are undergoing Covid-19 screening from time to time to prevent any outbreaks in the hospitals, particularly in intensive care units.
“Many health care workers have contracted the virus from community transmission,” he said.
“A healthcare worker in Shah Alam hospital has already been infected and we have detected close contacts of the infected staff. All of the five close contacts have tested negative and it doesn’t involve the neurosurgery intensive care unit (ICU), and other ICUs in Shah Alam hospital.”
Furthermore, Dr Noor Hisham also highlighted that ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, is not effective in the Covid-19 treatment.
“At the moment, ivermectin, the indication is not for Covid-19 because we do not have enough evidence to suggest that ivermectin can be used for Covid-19 treatment.
“Nonetheless, if there is a potential, then we need to study.”
Earlier, paediatrician Dr Musa Mohd Nordin noted that most scientists believe there is currently insufficient evidence to show that ivermectin can be used as a Covid-19 therapy and that randomised controlled trials are needed for further investigation.
National Covid-19 Highlights
Today Malaysia recorded 3,170 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total infections to 172,549.
Kuala Lumpur registered the most number of cases today (576 cases), followed by Selangor (545 cases) and Johor (423 cases).
Other states, including Sabah (401 cases), Negeri Sembilan (102 cases), Penang (171 cases), Perak (245 cases), Kedah (156 cases), Sarawak (132 cases), Kelantan (135 cases), Melaka (106 cases), Pahang (48 cases), Labuan (32 cases), Terengganu (57 cases), Putrajaya (33 cases), and Perlis (eight cases), also recorded new Covid-19 cases today.
Currently, there are 41,755 active Covid-19 patients in health care facilities and receiving treatment. Of them, 260 patients are receiving treatment in ICU, with 103 under ventilator support.
The country today recorded 12 new Covid-19 deaths, including four from Johor, three from Selangor, two from Sabah, and one each in Negeri Sembilan, Perak and Sarawak.
So far, a total of 642 people have died from Covid-19 in Malaysia.