Health D-G: Shipment of 200,000 Covid-19 rapid test kits delayed, likely arriving next week

Selcare health officers take samples during a free screening of Covid-19 organised by the Selangor gtate government at Dewan Musa Muda, Shah Alam April 19, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Selcare health officers take samples during a free screening of Covid-19 organised by the Selangor gtate government at Dewan Musa Muda, Shah Alam April 19, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — The government has ordered up to 200,000 rapid antigen test kits from South Korea that had been scheduled to arrive yesterday, but the delivery has since been delayed to next week, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.

The new test kits are expected to bolster the government’s ability for mass testing, which many health experts have called for as concerns mount over the unknown rate of community infections.

As of April 24 close to 15,000 daily tests have been conducted. Dr Noor Hisham said the daily reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test capacity now stood at 16,385.

“It should have arrived yesterday but there is a delay,” he said during the ministry’s daily press briefing on the Covid-19 situation.

“We anticipate it will arrive by next week.”

Malaysia has adopted a “targeted approach” to testing by zooming in on clusters, their close contacts and their immediate surroundings. 

In the last few weeks, there have been more calls for mass community testing after the MOH said it found infection cases with no links to the main existing clusters, but Dr Noor Hisham had said that the government would continue to use the targeted approach.

Today, the Health D-G said the rate of positive cases found for every ten tests suggest that the ministry’s testing rate is satisfactory, in accordance with the recommendation made by the World Health Organisation.

“Let’s say if we do 10 tests and more than one or, say, four positive cases that means there are more unidentified cases,” he told today’s briefing.

“We have to detect at least 10 per cent (for every 10 tests). 

“And if you look at the number of individual tests we’ve screened or taken samples of 132,361 which is equivalent to 4.3 per cent, which is better than the threshold set by the WHO.”

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