KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — Khairy Jamaluddin today revealed that federal health authorities have differing Covid-19 testing policies at the state level that influence positive rates.
The health minister said he is now working on a more consistent testing strategy where the Ministry of Health (MOH) can clearly determine which areas can transition into the mitigation phase or which would remain in the late containment stage.
“This is not clear currently, so in the field, there’s many interpretations about testing. I’m asking for a clear testing strategy to be implemented,” Khairy said in response to questions by former Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad and former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye in the Dewan Rakyat.
“But we also have to empower the state health department to determine based on the trend of transmission, whether mitigation or late containment, by considering current assets.
“If assets are insufficient, why do asymptomatic testing? We have to move to mitigation. But I understand, Gopeng, it gives a different picture of positive rates. Some do asymptomatic and some do symptomatic testing, so we have to be clear on the testing strategy,” he added in his winding-up speech in the House.
Khairy also acknowledged that MOH now has problems identifying actual positive rates because of unclear numbers of people who got tested for Covid-19, since many who test themselves using self-test kits do not report negative results.
When the total number of Rt-PCR, lab antigen rapid test kits, and self-tests taken is added, the health minister said Malaysia’s national positive rate was 9.95 per cent on September 21.
“But we don’t know the true denominator because we don’t know how many people did self-tests.”
He supported Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii’s suggestion to give rebates to incentivise people to report negative results on their self-tests.