M’sia to receive new Covid-19 test kit and improve testing capacity: Dr Noor Hisham

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry hopes to increase the test capacity of Covid-19 samples by at least 50% with the arrival of a new test kit and device from overseas.

Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today the department is continuously looking at ways to enhance its laboratories in terms of raising the testing capacity.

He said currently there are 43 laboratories nationwide which can perform up to 11,500 tests daily.

“We will be receiving a new test kit from Korea on Monday. Hopefully, the sensitivity and accuracy of this kit will be more than 80%. We are also looking at a new technique of carrying out tests with a device from China. It is automated and this means it can process samples faster. With this, perhaps we can carry out an additional 5,000 tests a day,” Noor Hisham said during a press conference.

He said two more new laboratories namely in Tawau and Sandakan will soon be in operation.

Noor Hisham said said to date, 51,937 tests have been carried out of which 7.05% or 3,662 cases tested positive.

He said as for those linked to the Seri Petaling tabligh event cluster, 17,012 people were tested.

He said out of the number, 1,591 tested positive, 10,912 tested negative and the results of 4,500 are pending.

He said said the Health Department is being proactive in identifying potential carriers of the virus by targeting high-risk groups.

Noor Hisham said instead of testing the public in general, the “track and trace” approach is to target individuals who have been exposed to the Covid-19 clusters, their immediate family members and then the next generation of people who had come in contact with them.

On the effectiveness of face masks used by the public to keep the virus at bay, he said there needs to be specific evidence to show it is effective and the health ministry is waiting for guidelines of face mask usage from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“As for healthcare workers and front-liners, we have advised them to wear a face mask when they face the public. Our recommendation to the public is, if you have symptoms, please wear a mask. Now the question is whether all should wear a face mask. If you are exposing yourself to the public, perhaps you should but again we need to look into evidence. We have no objection to this,” he added.

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