Experts: Get tested by trained healthcare workers

PETALING JAYA: Health experts are warning the public not to be taken in by online peddlers dangling what may possibly be unaccredited or non-approved “Covid-19 test kits”.

Irresponsible people are advertising such kits on social media with claims the device is able to deliver results that are “99.99% accurate” within minutes.

The test was being promoted as a way for buyers to perform self-diagnosis for Covid-19.

Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah said taking a swab sample from a person’s nose or throat (or the nasopharyngeal area) should not be done by any layman.

“Taking a swab is not as easy as it seems. You have to take the specimen from the target areas. If you take the sample from the wrong area, you may not be getting the correct result, ” he said, adding that only Covid-19 test kits registered under the Medical Device Authority (MDA) could be considered genuine.

He advised Malaysians to get properly tested by going to doctors or healthcare workers who are trained to collect the samples.

“The list of trained doctors and clinics who are able to do that is on the Health Ministry’s website, ” he said.

Prof Dr Victor Hoe from Universiti Malaya’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine said Covid-19 tests should only be carried out by trained healthcare personnel.

“Even if the Covid-19 test (kit) may be genuine, the interpretation of the test results by the public who are not medical doctors is difficult, ” he said, adding that all medical devices, including diagnostic testing equipment, must be approved by the MDA.

“The reason for this is to ensure that the medical devices used in Malaysia are able to perform as intended and provide the intended results.

“The practice of selling devices like non-MDA-approved Covid-19 swab test kits online will cause more confusion and anxiety to the public as these devices have not been approved and the validity of the results obtained is doubtful, ” he said.

He cautioned Malaysians not to fall for advertisements on social media which allow users to carry out Covid-19 tests on their own.

“They should seek the advice of their family doctor or a general practitioner if they have any symptom or want to be tested, ” he said.

Assoc Prof Dr Chee Hui Yee of Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Medical Microbiology Department said those who “diagnosed” themselves might be lulled into becoming complacent.

“The individuals taking such tests are not authorised to diagnose themselves. If the result is positive, they still have to go to a clinic anyway to get the results validated.

“If the results turn out negative, they will feel relieved, but this could turn out to be a false negative, and they may let their guard down and spread the virus.

“Doing a nasal swab is difficult. If you perform it on yourself, you may get hurt, ” she said, adding that there were reports of people procuring such test kits, with some “medical companies” offering to send their personnel to “teach” people how to test themselves.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a tweet yesterday that tests such as the Rapid Test Kit Antigen must be performed by a trained operator.

“For best results, the tests should be performed within the first five to seven days following onset of symptoms, ” he said.

According to the Health Ministry’s guidelines, only registered medical practitioners who have attended training and given a certificate of attendance by the ministry can collect Covid-19 samples.

For the private sector, the samples can only be collected by establishments that are licensed under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act.

Results of the tests are to be keyed into the Public Health Laboratory Test Result System.

Regulations also stipulate that no person shall advertise a medical device without approval from MDA, and those found guilty may face a fine up to RM200,000 or a jail term of up to two years, or both.

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Covid-19 , test kits , swab


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