Health D-G cautions against Covid-19 rapid testing for public

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah at a press conference in Putrajaya March 24, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah at a press conference in Putrajaya March 24, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — The Ministry of Health said today there is no need for the public to use any rapid test kit in order to diagnose whether they are infected with Covid-19.

In a press conference, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the kits currently sold in the market is not recommended, and the public should seek health professionals if they suspect they are infected.

“It can only trace the antibodies within five to eight days after infection. The rapid test kit cannot trace the virus before that. It can’t help in the early detection of the Covid-19 infection.

“The rapid test kit is not recommended for diagnosis of the virus,” said Dr Noor Hisham told the media.

Earlier, Dr Noor Hisham explained that laboratory tests conducted in government health facilities for Covid-19 infection are by using Real-Time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) technique. 

“The rRT-PCR test will detect the presence of the Covid-19 virus in the patient’s body,” he said.

Therefore, Dr Noor Hisham said a positive Covid-19 rRT-PCR test means that the individual has been infected with the virus.

He said accurate test results through rRT-PCR techniques are crucial in the effective management of Covid-19 patients.

“The rRT-PCR has an accuracy of 98 to 99 per cent.

“Accordingly, the Health Ministry urges the public not to take the rapid test kit test arbitrarily without consulting a medical practitioner, as it has the potential to cause misunderstanding and frustration over its test results,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

Yesterday, it was reported that My EG Services Bhd said its Covid-19 rapid test kit has been qualified for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration, paving the way for the sale of the kits in the United States.

In Malaysia, the rapid test kit is pending approval and certification by the Health Ministry.

 

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