‘No big clusters found in mass factory testing’

SOME 20 factories in Penang doing pool screening of their workers have so far seen a positivity rate of 0.4% to 2.5% at each factory, with no big clusters detected.

Project coordinator Dr Lee Toong Chow, who is in charge of the process, said over the last two weeks since the end of last month, over 2, 000 workers were tested.

“We expect to test at least another 800 people this week until Saturday.

“We are in our third week of testing so far and it has been successful. We are happy that there are no big clusters found.

“For the positive cases that we did pick up, most were asymptomatic, ” he said when contacted on Wednesday.

Dr Lee, who leads a team of seven volunteers in the testing process, said the method was effective and proven to work based on overseas literature.

“In this case, it means we do a sampling of 10% of the workers in a big company.

“For instance, if a company has 6, 000 staff, we will conduct the test on 600 of them and look at the rate of cases.

“If the rate is high, then we will test the whole group, ” he added.

He said so far, they tested workers of some 20 companies and found that most of the cases were picked up in the community rather than from a cluster within their workplaces.

Earlier, it was reported that some 400, 000 factory workers in Penang were expected to take the on-site polymerase chain reaction test using the deep throat saliva method in a move to step up mass testing.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) Penang chairman Datuk Jimmy Ong said the mass testing, believed to be the first involving factories in the country, would ensure early detection of clusters.

“Workers who stay together, work in the same department or use the same transport will be pooled and tested together, ” he said.

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