Socso to use more reliable RT-PCR method to test workers for Covid-19


PETALING JAYA: Covid-19 testing done via the Social Security Organisation (Socso) will rely on the more accurate reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method.

Socso said Covid-19 screening for employees of companies allowed to operate during the movement control order (MCO) is being implemented through its Prihatin Screening Programme.

"The programme commenced with phase 1 using the RT-PCR, and will be followed by phase 2 using the RTK antibody (test)," it said in a statement on Saturday (May 9).

Socso said as it takes the recommendations for the Covid-19 screening method for high-risk workers seriously, thus, it will follow the guidelines set by the Health Ministry and the National Security Council that only recognises RT-PCR as a screening method.

"The screening will be carried out by existing service provider, as well as other service providers that will be appointed by Socso to enable a more efficient service delivery.

"The Covid-19 test is compulsory for foreign workers in the construction sector or those working in the red zones only," it said.

For further information on Socso’s Health Screening Programme (HSP), the public can visit prihatin.perkeso.gov.my.

According to the Health Ministry, the RT-PCR method detects the presence of Covid-19 in an individual's body by looking at genetic material taken from swabs.

If the Covid-19 genetic material is detected in the swabs, the patient is diagnosed as Covid-19 positive.

The RTK method is done on blood samples but only detects the presence of antibodies to the coronavirus and not the virus itself.

However, antibodies will only show up in the body after seven to 14 days of an individual being exposed to the virus.

A negative result, however, does not mean that an individual has not been infected.

The Health Ministry has said such tests were not useful for early detection of Covid-19 and was not recommended for diagnosing the disease.

On April 19, Socso said they would conduct health screenings for employees returning to work during the conditional MCO.

Its chief executive Datuk Seri Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed said their panel clinics would follow guidelines set by the Health Ministry when conducting screening.

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