MOH Estimates Three Undetected Covid-19 Cases For Every Reported Infection

Dr Chong Chee Kheong says mass testing is unfeasible in the long run because of the large population size and short testing windows required.

KUALA LUMPUR, August 6 — Malaysia likely has four times more Covid-19 cases than are being officially reported due to limited testing, said Greater Klang Valley Special Task Force (GKVSTF) chief Dr Chong Chee Kheong.

Dr Chong said he agreed with views that the real case tally could be undercounted as the government’s policy is to focus on testing symptomatic cases rather than all suspected cases.

“On whether it is true that for every Covid-19 case we detect, there are three more undetected cases, that is true,” he told a media briefing today. The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported a record high 20,596 new Covid-19 cases yesterday.

Dr Chong said it is difficult to distribute tests both in Selangor and throughout the country due to the size of the population and short testing windows required for mass testing to be effective.

“If we want to do mass population testing, we need to do it within a short time frame like in a month, or within two weeks, or six weeks. It has to be done within that short period. And once we’re done with the first round, should we continue to do this every month? Or every two months?

“So, mass population testing is not feasible in the long run and it’s not sustainable. Our approach has always been targeted testing,” he said.

Due to the high number of coronavirus cases in the Greater Klang Valley area, testing is done only on those with symptoms as patients who die from Covid-19 will often display symptoms and deteriorate over a period of two to three days or longer, Dr Chong said.

“So, focusing our attention on those who are symptomatic and those with early symptoms is, for us, the most important issue now — not to know the number of cases.

“Even if you test all the population in Selangor, or Kuala Lumpur, or the whole Malaysia, 90 per cent will be asymptomatic. But what are you going to do with all those asymptomatic cases?

“The important thing for us now is that the virus is in the community, and as the vaccination rate goes up to a minimum of about 40 per cent, the impact of the vaccination will be seen.

“Our focus then should be on those who are symptomatic Categories Four and Five, and Category Three to catch them early so that we can have a better outcome,” he said.

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