RTK-Positive Individuals To Self-Isolate Pending PCR Covid-19 Diagnosis: Adham

RTK-Ag is used as a diagnostic test in districts or states with Covid-19 prevalence above 10%, but a concordance analysis of RTK-Ag and RT-PCR will be used too.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 – People who test positive for Covid-19 on the rapid antigen test kit (RTK-Ag) must self-isolate at home and will receive a quarantine band, pending RT-PCR test results for official diagnosis.

Health Minister Dr Adham Baba urged these individuals to self-monitor their health using the Sejahtera application and to seek immediate treatment at the nearest public health clinic, (Klinik Kesihatan) should their symptoms worsen while awaiting their RT-PCR test results.

“However, positive RTK-Ag test results are used as a diagnostic test for individuals living in districts or states that are confirmed to have Covid-19 prevalence above 10 per cent, based on a concordance analysis of RTK-Ag and RT-PCR tests by the state health department,” Dr Adham told a virtual joint press conference with Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday.

A concordance analysis checks with the RT-PCR for any false positive results. The RTK-Ag has lower sensitivity at 85 per cent versus 95 per cent sensitivity of RT-PCR. Sensitivity refers to a test’s ability to correctly identify people with a disease, so a less sensitive test is more likely to produce false negatives — people who have the disease but test negative.

“During the Movement Control Order (MCO) phase from June 1 to 14, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will increase close contact screening, especially in the Klang Valley, by increasing sampling centres in the community.

“MOH will use RTK-Ag to expedite the detection of cases to prevent transmission in the community,” added the health minister.

Dr Adham also said MOH will increase case surveillance on everyone with Covid-19 symptoms who seek treatment at MOH health facilities and those with underlying health conditions, regardless of age. 

“This is to ensure immediate disease control and prevention.”

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told a joint press conference with Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob last Sunday that MOH would increase testing in the field using the RTK-Ag, with much faster test results than the RT-PCR test, as he urged state governments, MPs, and state assemblymen to help with testing.

In the 21st epidemiological week from May 23 to 29, Malaysia tested 774,973 individuals, of which 53,419 tested positive, yielding a 6.89 per cent positive rate. This exceeds the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of a maximum 5 per cent positive rate for at least two weeks before countries consider reopening.

Only Perak, Sabah, Perlis showed positive rates that week below 5 per cent. The other 13 states and federal territories in the country had positive rates exceeding 5 per cent, with Kelantan (11.84 per cent), Negeri Sembilan (10.03 per cent), and Labuan (8.78 per cent) topping the list.

This means that the Covid-19 epidemic in most of the country is being under-reported, as there are many more infections in the community that have not yet been detected.

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