Malaysia still not testing enough for Covid-19, says Damansara MP

Pua called for the MoH to drastically increase its targeted testing and put in place a National Testing Plan, as part of a whole of government and whole of nation approach to fighting Covid-19 and its variants. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Pua called for the MoH to drastically increase its targeted testing and put in place a National Testing Plan, as part of a whole of government and whole of nation approach to fighting Covid-19 and its variants. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — Malaysia is still under testing for Covid-19, said Damansara MP Tony Pua today.

In a statement, he claimed that the Ministry of Health (MoH) has not been consistent with its daily testing and had conducted significantly fewer tests for a six-week period despite the country’s rising infection rate.

He said during the first week of movement control order (MCO) 3.0, which commenced on May 23, the MoH carried out an average of 109,601 daily tests to return an average of 7,631 daily positive cases or 6.96 per cent positivity.

But for the six subsequent weeks until July 10, he added, the MoH had actually carried out significantly fewer tests despite the high and rising positivity rate.

“Yesterday, the Ministry of Health (MoH) reported 12,366 Covid-19 positive cases from 124,519 test samples. That translates to a positivity rate of 9.93 per cent. 

“It was only last week that the MoH finally carried out more tests than it did during the first week of MCO 3.0. For the week starting July 11, an average of 120,165 tests were carried out daily, which returned a positivity rate of 9.35 per cent or 11,237 positive results daily,” Pua said in the statement.

He added that the positivity rate is well above the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) threshold of 5 per cent where the spread of Covid-19 is deemed under control.

He also provided data to back up his claims, showing a significant drop in testing of 34 per cent for the week of June 20 compared to the first week of MCO 3.0.

“When comparing the testing data between the first week of MCO 3.0 and the last week (July 11-17), the positivity rate has increased by more than 34 per cent from 6.96 per cent to 9.35 per cent,” he wrote. 

“However, despite an increase in testing last week, it was increased by an average of 9.6 per cent only.

“This simply means that we are still severely under-testing for Covid-19 in our community based on the current number of cases uncovered.”

Pua then called for the MoH to drastically increase its targeted testing and put in place a National Testing Plan, as part of a whole of government and whole of nation approach to fighting Covid-19 and its variants. 

He said that this plan is not for the MoH to execute alone, but for all stakeholders including private hospitals, private clinics, factories and workplaces, and even individuals via the now available self-test kits.

“In the past, MoH has repeatedly dismissed calls for mass-scale Covid-19 testing across the country ever since last year. Health director-general (DG) Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah favoured the ‘targeted’ approach in Covid-19 testing.

“We would like to highlight that we do not have an issue with a ‘targeted testing’ approach. However, there is a stark difference between ‘targeted testing’ and ‘limited testing’. What the MoH has in effect been practising is a ‘limited testing’ approach,” he said, adding the amount of targeted testing has to effectively be doubled in order to give an accurate indication of infections within the community.

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