Sarawak MP urges Putrajaya to reduce retail price of Covid-19 self-test kits

·3-min read
JusChek Covid-19 rapid antigen self-test kits are displayed for sale at a pharmacy in Shah Alam September 2, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
JusChek Covid-19 rapid antigen self-test kits are displayed for sale at a pharmacy in Shah Alam September 2, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUCHING, Sept 2 — Bandar Kuching Member of Parliament Dr Kelvin Yii today urged the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to reduce the retail price of Covid-19 self-test kits to make them more accessible to the public.

He said the capped price of RM19.90 for retail is too high and considered unaffordable for many segments of the society including the B40 and lower M40 especially if there are many members of the family who need to be screened frequently.

“I urge the government to take an extra step to subsidise the price of the Covid-19 self-test kit to make it affordable and accessible to the mass public as we facilitate the public into accepting it as part of the new normal, especially as one of the important steps to progressively reopen our economy safely and sustainably,” he said in a statement.

He said subsidised prices will also help the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to incorporate it into their general SOPs to reduce outbreaks at workplace clusters.

Yii said SMEs are already struggling due to the slow economy and the government must look at alleviating some of their burden while encouraging safe practices among them to build a frequent testing culture to ensure the economy keeps going.

“The government should look into reducing red tape and bureaucracy when it comes to approving self-test kits that meet the necessary requirements.

“When there are more brands in the market, this will encourage competition in the market which will drive down the price once ordered in bulk, especially when the demand increases as the government cultivates a culture of testing throughout the community.

“From there the government can look at subsidising it further to make it even below RM10 to make it affordable and accessible,” he said.

However, he said, it is then important for the government to properly regulate such test kits to ensure its effectiveness and make the necessary enforcement to make sure those sold in the market are genuine and approved by the Malaysian Medical Device Authority (MDA).

He added currently many multiple reports of “fake ones” are being sold online or even those that are not approved which may be questionable.

“This is the new normal that we need to transition into, and the government must provide a conducive environment for that to happen,” he said.

Earlier today, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi and Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin, in a joint statement, announced a ceiling price of RM19.90 for Covid-19 self-test kits in retail stores starting September 5.

The announcement also capped the wholesale price for the kits at RM16.

“The demand for rapid test kits is expected to increase following heightened public awareness in self-assessment to ensure they are not infected.

“The ceiling wholesale and retail pricing of Covid-19 antigen rapid test kits (self-testing) is made according to the appropriateness and suitability for more effective enforcement to ensure reasonable prices and availability of supplies in the market for the benefit of consumers and traders,” Nanta Linggi said.

Nanta said the decision was based on information gathered from price observations at all pharmacies nationwide and feedback obtained from the Health Ministry’s Medical Devices Authority, Customs Department and discussions with sellers and importers.

He added that his ministry expects competition will further stabilise the selling prices, similar to current prices of face masks.

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