KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has advised elected representatives against conducting mass Covid-19 testing on concerns over false positive or negative results.
Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching said applications made by Parit Yaani state assemblyman Aminolhuda Hassan and Yong Peng state assemblywoman Chew Peck Choo to conduct mass Rapid Test Kit-Antigen screenings were rejected by the Batu Pahat district health office in Johor recently.
In two separate letters issued to Aminolhuda and Chew on June 9 and July 1 respectively, as shared by Teo with the press, Batu Pahat district public health officer Dr Shahril Azian Masrom said their applications for mass testing was turned down as it would create confusion in the public over false positive or negative results.
Other concerns also include the heightened risk of Covid-19 spread at the testing location and that Johor was still under Movement Control Order (MCO) restrictions. Failure to abide by the restrictive orders could lead to a penalty of RM10,000.
Dr Shahril told Aminolhuda and Chew that the state health department has adopted a “more accurate” testing strategy via targeted testing, especially among high-risk individuals.
“We are worried that mass testing programmes (by the elected representatives) will disrupt the district’s efforts to contain Covid-19,” he said in his letters to the Johor state lawmakers.
Teo said the MOH must explain why it prevented elected representatives in Batu Pahat from offering subsidised Covid-19 screenings and why it reduced testings in June.
“Before our nation entered full MCO 3.0 on June 1, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham outlined five actions on May 30 that the MOH would take during the two-week lockdown, including doing targeted screenings in the field using the RTK-Antigen detection method for Covid-19.
“However, we did not do more testing in June. In fact, we did less testing in June, even though the full lockdown was extended to four weeks,” the former deputy education minister said in a statement today.
In the month of May, 2,661,888 testings were conducted but in the month of June, only 2,491,232 screenings were recorded, Teo said.
“Why was targeted mass testing not conducted as promised? The MOH owes us an answer. Not only has the government failed to conduct mass testing, but it also does not allow some of our elected representatives to conduct targeted mass testing,” she said.
Teo said Dr Noor Hisham has urged the state government along with Members of Parliament and state assemblymen to help carry out targeted screening on the ground using the RTK-Antigen. “However, that is not the reality on the ground.”
“MOH should explain to us why they failed to conduct more screening in the month of June, and why they stopped elected reps from offering free or subsidised screening for the public. Even though we see the number of screenings gradually increase in the month of July, we have already wasted one month.
“MoH needs to drastically increase its targeted testing and allow all elected reps to organise subsidised screening programmes so that we can test at least 1 per cent, that is approximately 300,000 tests a day as a contingency to deal with any further outbreaks in the future,” she said.
Malaysia recorded 199 deaths yesterday and the positive rate was as high as 12.51 per cent. This is after 51 days of full MCO and two weeks of Enhanced MCO in most of the Klang Valley.
“Clearly, our nation is not on the right path to win the battle against Covid-19,” Teo said. “So the question is, what have we done wrong?”