Covid-19 tests and delivery of results in just six hours, says doctor

IMR Virology Unit chief Dr Ravindran Thayan

KUALA LUMPUR: The Institute for Medical Research (IMR) can deliver Covid-19 test results within six hours after receiving samples, says its Infectious Disease Research Centre’s Virology Unit chief Dr Ravindran Thayan.

He said it was vital to quickly test and deliver the results, enabling health authorities to immediately carry out contact tracing if the samples tested positive.

“We have also trained staff members at 12 designated hospitals and five public health laboratories nationwide to carry out the test.

“Samples that tested positive at the designated hospitals and laboratories must also be delivered to IMR for further confirmation.

“The designated hospitals and labs must also send us five random samples that were tested negative within the week. This is done to double-check the results, ” he said after briefing newsmen at IMR facilities yesterday.

Dr Ravindran said they used the World Health Organisation (WHO) Covid-19 reagents to carry out the test at a cost of RM100 per sample.

He said on Jan 11, Chinese scientists had shared information on the genetic makeup of the new virus in the common database, enabling IMR officers to develop primers and probes sequences that are specific for Covid-19.

“IMR officers succeeded in optimising the real-time RT-PCR Covid-19 test on Jan 22, and we supplied the reagent to the Sungai Buloh National Public Health Laboratory on Jan 24 to test the first three positive cases detected in Malaysia, where the patients had come into contact with positive patients warded in Singapore.

“The test developed by IMR was used to positively identify four Covid-19 cases prior to the arrival of the WHO Covid-19 reagents on Jan 26.

“The samples taken earlier yielded the same result when we tested again with WHO Covid-19 reagents, ” he said.

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