KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) today claimed that it is not under-testing for Covid-19, insisting that all asymptomatic close contacts are also screened for the coronavirus.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah explained that there may be a delay in testing asymptomatic close contacts because of the overwhelming number of cases, such as previously in Sabah and currently in the Klang Valley.
“In other states, close contact screening is still done for those who are without symptoms,” Dr Noor Hisham said at a press conference on Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases today.
Previously, a circular by the Health director-general last month sighted by CodeBlue stated that only symptomatic close contacts will be screened for Covid-19, while asymptomatic ones will be told to isolate at home.
Dr Noor Hisham also said that yesterday, 23 private labs only ran 14.2 per cent of their RT-PCR testing capacity, or 7,273 tests out of 51,208 capacity.
“This may be due to the Chinese New Year celebrations and also a lesser number of people coming in for screening.”
However, he said the number of tests done by private labs yesterday is still not accurate as there are seven labs that have yet to enter the data into the system. He also said that sometimes, private labs delay entering negative results, which also makes it look like the number of tests being down is low.
He also explained that MOH is conducting adequate testing as for every positive case, there should be at least 10 negative cases. Malaysia’s ratio, he said, was one to 20. According to Our World In Data, which uses World Health Organization (WHO) data, Malaysia’s positive rate (share of tests that are positive) has exceeded 5 per cent since last November 6. On February 14, Malaysia’s positive rate (rolling seven-day average) was 7 per cent.
While the WHO has recommended that countries should keep their positive rate below 5 per cent for at least two weeks before ending a lockdown, it has also suggested around 10 to 30 tests per confirmed case as a general benchmark of adequate testing.
Earlier today, CodeBlue reported that the number of people tested nationwide dropped from 61,483 people on February 10 to 24,276 people on February 15. Today, MOH reported that 16,464 RT-PCR tests were conducted yesterday, utilising only 21 per cent of the actual capacity of 76,805. The number of tests and the number of individuals tested are different.
Dr Noor Hisham however said that the more RKT-Ag tests are being utilised, especially for screening on the ground which also proves that MOH is conducting more tests for Covid-19.
National Covid-19 Highlights
Today, MOH reported 2,720 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative number of cases to 269,165.
Currently, there are 44,129 active cases, including 253 in the intensive care unit and 118 on ventilator support.
The highest number of cases today were reported in Selangor (1,300), where the movement control order has been extended until March 4.
The death toll has increased to 983 as eight new casualties were reported today.