Malaysia to test South Korean Covid-19 test kits tonight

Local laboratories have the capacity to carry out 7,100 Covid-19 tests a day at present. Picture shows a throat swab being taken.

PUTRAJAYA: A new rapid test kit from South Korea will be used tonight to detect Covid-19 cases as the country recorded more than 2,000 cases since February.

Health ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said they decided not to buy a rapid test kit from China due to the reported low accuracy rate.

He said Malaysia wants to avoid the mistake done by Spain which had bought over 3,000 rapid test kits from China but is now not using them “due to the lower accuracy rate”.

“If the accuracy is low, then we will not order the test kits (from South Korea).

“Hopefully, we can make a decision tonight,” he said during a press conference here when asked to comment on the current capacity for Covid-19 tests by health ministry labs nationwide.

The tests are being carried out by the Institute of Medical Research (IMR).

The health ministry will order up to one million units if the Korean rapid test kit proves to have a high accuracy rate.

He said at present, local laboratories have the capacity to carry out 7,100 tests a day.

WHO chooses Malaysia to collaborate on Covid-19 research

Malaysia has been identified as one of the countries by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to carry out research on Covid-19, Noor Hisham added.

He said it is part of the cooperation between the health ministry and WHO on further medical research on a medicine called Remdesivir.

“Maybe other countries have also been chosen but Malaysia is picked for its ability to carry out research,” he said, adding that Malaysia has a good research system.

The research will be carried out at the Sungai Buloh Hospital and other medical universities such as Universiti Malaya and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

He said joint medication testing on patients will also be carried out.

Noor Hisham also asked members of the public with health insurance policies to carry out Covid-19 tests at private hospitals to reduce the burden on public hospitals.

He said the price may drop from RM350 to RM250 if more people used private laboratories, but this depended on the private sector.

He said the coronavirus may stay in the air when carrying out procedures at laboratories. Due to that, medical staff have been asked to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.

Noor Hisham added patients who had been admitted to Intensive Care Units (ICU) sometimes died of heart attacks while waiting for the Covid-19 test results.

“That is why we have asked all our ICU staff to be extra cautious to stop any cross-infection,” he added.

Malaysia today recorded 130 new cases today, bringing the total number of patients so far to 2,161. So far, 26 deaths have been reported.