MOH says still looking for fastest, most accurate rapid test kits, to not repeat Spain, UK’s mistake

Soo Wern Jun
A medical worker takes a swab at a Covid-19 drive-through screening area at KPJ Ampang Puteri April 9, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) said today it is still in the midst of evaluating and ratifying rapid test kits for Covid-19, and has yet to identify one that is accurate and reliable.

Its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Malaysia does not wish to repeat the mistakes of countries like Spain and the United Kingdom, where rapid test kits there had resulted in false negatives and false positives.

“For now, we still have not found a test kit that is accurate and reliable,” he said during his daily briefing.

Dr Noor Hisham was responding to reporters question regarding the use of rapid test kits, indicating that for now, the test utilised for Covid-19 is satisfactory.

Commenting further, he added that MOH is still in the process of testing the rapid test kits, once particularly from South Korea.

Dr Noor Hisham said, the rapid test kits will be registered with the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and in a few days, MOH will be conducting clinical tests to ensure that cases using these rapid test kits are effective.

“We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of countries like Spain and recently the UK, where rapid test kits have low sensitivity.

“When the sensitivity is low, there will be false negative and false positive. The negative may become positive and the positive may become negative.

“And when you test again with the RT-PCR, it becomes positive. There will be inaccuracy when reporting these cases if these test kits are used,” he said.

He also said that to identify a test kit that can return results in half an hour or an hour, that would be the best.

“But for now, we can’t find a rapid test kit with high accuracy yet,” he said.

Currently, the test results obtained using the Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test takes about six hours.

However, Dr Noor Hisham said, if there is an increase in cases, it will take a longer time, up to 24 hours or 48 hours.

“At private hospitals, they too have a time frame of 24 hours. But even some cannot fulfil 24 hours,” he said. 



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