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Health Ministry looking into Covid-19 rapid test kits

26 Mar 2020 / 10:46 H.

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry is looking to extend its novel coronavirus (Covid-19) testing capabilities by looking into the “rapid test kit for antigen” which can detect cases of those positive with the virus.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pix) said his ministry and the government is looking will look into this on Friday, and decide if the test kit could be used for mass screenings on targeted groups for faster accurate results.

“We have 18 government labs and five private labs working to detect positive cases. We can test as many as 6,000 samples a day if we use the rapid test kit,“ he said at a press conference yesterday.

The Ministry is also in talks with the Institute for Medical Research to procure mass test kits that can enhance the Health Ministry’s capabilities in detecting Covid-19 positive cases.

“From South Korea’s experience, they can get results from 20,000 samples a day. But first, let’s aim to increase our testing capabilities to 16,000 cases a day,“ he said.

The test kits are expected to be used at Covid-19 hotspots and on targeted groups - the tabligh participants and Rohingya refugees.

“We want to detect as many cases as early as possible as there could be many who are asymptomatic yet still positive,” he said and referred the first three cases in Malaysia as an example - the family from China who came from Singapore who were asymptomatic but tested positive later.

On another note, Noor Hisham said the ministry has the capacity to handle more Covid-19 cases with the addition of 3,400 health workers, 2,500 of whom are nurses.

“Some 3,000 retired nurses have also been re-called. We will assess their expertise and place them accordingly,“ he said.

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