[UPDATE 30/3/2020 15:45] KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital is also offering a “drive-thru” testing process that does not require an appointment. Find out more here.
At 9pm last night, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the country would be subject to a movement control order, with most private businesses—besides essential services providers—ordered to shut down in a bid to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The reaction by Malaysians to the announcement, predictably, has been one primarily driven by fear. Supermarkets are packed to the rafters with customers looking to stock up, and paranoia is at an all-time high.
But even as we go through this challenging time, the advice remains the same. Practise good hygiene: remember to wear a face mask in crowded places, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap, avoid crowded places, and remember to cover your mouth when coughing.
And if you feel the onset of flu symptoms, or if you’ve come into close contact with someone who has been infected, you’ll need to get yourself tested ASAP. But it turns out that not every healthcare provider out there has the necessary tools at hand to conduct the COVID-19 test. Here’s what you need to know.
What should I do first?
Getting yourself screened for COVID-19 isn’t something that can be done at any healthcare provider. Currently, the Ministry of Health has 59 designated hospitals across Malaysia for COVID-19 screening, with 26 hospitals that will admit you if you are fall within certain criteria.
Here’s where things get a little confusing. Before you’re classified as a “case”, which basically means that you’re infected, you’ll first be classified as either a sporadic case, PUI (Patient Under Investigation), or a contact. Contacts would include those that have had close contact with an infected individual, while an individual who is displaying symptoms and has recently been to impacted countries.
Only those that are classified as the above will be screened for the COVID-19 infection. It’s also worth noting that contact with an infected individual only refers to close contact—this is because transmission of the disease is via droplets, as opposed to the coronavirus being airborne. Once a patient is screened, he is then put into quarantine: self-quarantine if asymptomatic, hospital quarantine if symptoms are present.
This is the official list of designated hospitals by the Health Ministry for COVID-19 screening and admission:
We’ve also reached out to Hospital Sungai Buloh to find out the price of a COVID-19 test, with a representative saying that eligible patients will have to pay RM1 for the test. Students who bring proof from their educational institutions will not be charged.
If you do not fulfil the criteria to undergo COVID-19 screening, but you still want to take the test to be sure, you’ll need to head down the private provider path. There are 11 private companies who have collaborated with the Health ministry to provide home test sampling services:
- Pantai Premier Pathology Sdn Bhd
- Lablink (M) Sdn Bhd (KPJ)
- Qualitas Medical Group Sdn Bhd,
- Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur,
- Twin Tower Medical Centre KLCC
- Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur,
- Pantai Hospital Cheras,
- Pantai Hospital Klang
- Pantai Hospital Ayer Keroh, Melaka.
However, it’s worth noting that the private home screening process will cost around RM700, plus travel costs, as reported by FMT. According to Vulcan Post, you’ll only get your results 24 hours after collection of your sample. And if you aren’t quite sure if you meet the criteria, there is an online medical consultation portal that will gauge your risk factors: age, whether you’ve travelled recently, symptoms, and so on. There’s also a home-test kit from MyEG that will supposedly give you results in 30 minutes—but that is not currently available, with the provider still awaiting MoH approval.
As it stands, Malaysia has 553 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with no deaths recorded. On the global stage, 187,556 cases have been reported, with a death toll of 6,442.
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