Health DG: New Covid-19 rapid test kits procured from South Korea

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 16 Apr 2020

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has found a reliable antigen test kit from South Korea with a sensitivity rate of 84.4%, which will help boost Covid-19 testing in the country.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry had already procured the test kits from South Korean firm, SD Biosensor, and was hoping they could arrive by next week.

“We have been testing several antigen test kits, and the good news is that the ones by SD Biosensor have a sensitivity rate of 84.4% and specificity rate of 100%.

“With the antigen rapid test kit, testing can be done at point of care. That means you do not need to send the swab test samples to our 43 labs to get the results.

It can actually be done at clinics or hospitals. They just need to be equipped with biosafety cabinets, ” said Dr "Hisham at the ministry’s daily Covid-19 press conference here.

Previously, Dr Hisham had said the ministry was trying out rapid test kits from various firms but had been unable to find one that had a high level of accuracy.

“The existing PCR (polymerise chain reaction) tests would complement the antigen rapid test kits if there are any doubts over the results.

“This is what we are trying to embark on.

"We have already placed our procurement. Hopefully in the next week or so we can get it.

“Once we do, we can aim for more targeted mass screening, ” he said.

Dr Hisham said currently there were 43 labs in the country which could produce up to 11,500 Covid-19 test results a day.

With the new test kits, the ministry will be able to increase its capacity closer to its target of 16,500 daily tests.

On why the country wasn't conducting mass screenings across the population, Dr Hisham said the ministry’s method was a more targeted approach.

“It is not that we are not doing mass screening. We are doing it, but what we are doing is targeted. For example, we target a street, a sub-district or a village.

“We target specific locations and high-risk groups, ” he said.

He also pointed out that the number of people in the country who had tested positive out of all samples was 5.4% — well below the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommendation of 10%.

“So far, a total of 90,000 test samples have been taken from individuals in this country. Out of that, the number of positive cases is 5,182, which accounts for only 5.4%, ” said Dr Hisham.

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