KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) aims to increase the capacity of COVID-19 tests in laboratories nationwide to 200,000 tests a day, says Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
He said although the 68 laboratories currently conducting the tests had reached 100 per cent capacity with over 76,000 tests a day, there were still private laboratories, laboratories at university hospitals and Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) hospitals that could help increase the capacity.
“With a unified command centre, besides the fact that we can move our patients to the hospitals, it is important for the laboratories at these hospitals to help increase the number of tests to 150,000 to 200,000 per day so that we can test more samples,” he said during an engagement session with the media on COVID-19 here today.
The session was also attended by Senior Consultant Physician for Infectious Diseases from the Sungai Buloh Hospital Datuk Dr C Suresh Kumar, Head of Virology Unit from the Medical Research Institute (IMR) Dr T Ravindran, National Public Health Laboratory director Dr Hani Mat Hussin and MOH Medical Practices Division senior principal assistant director Dr Mohamed Ahsan Mohamed Ismail.
Dr Noor Hisham said so far the testing capacity at university hospitals was at 27 per cent, private laboratories (31 per cent) and laboratories in MAF hospitals (24 per cent), and these facilities could increase their capacity up to 100 per cent to achieve the daily test target.
In the meantime, he said the delay in reporting the number of positive cases in Selangor recently was because private laboratories were late to send in the notifications to the ministry.
. “When the private sector does not notify MOH, the district health centre is not aware of the positive cases and it also causes delays in contact tracing,” he said.
However, he said the matter had been resolved with a circular issued to private laboratories and hospitals to immediately lodge the cases into the system.
In the meantime, he also denied claims that the MOH did not use the Rapid Antigen Test kit (RTK-Ag) to perform COVID-19 screening.
“It is not true that we do not use it. In Sabah, for example, we previously sent up to 200,000 RTK-Ag kits to be used there.
“Socso (Socso) also used one million RTK-Ag kits to screen foreign workers, we also use to test daily samples,” he said, adding that the MOH was currently in the process of procuring another 1.36 million RTK-Ag kits.