Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has shared that Malaysia will be able to increase its COVID-19 testing capacity to 22,000 tests per day by next week. This is made possible with two automated test processing machines located in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.
He shared that the automated processing machine that will be placed at the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) in Kuala Lumpur by this weekend is capable of conducting 5,000 tests per day. Meanwhile, the second machine that will be placed at Kota Kinabalu public health lab has the capacity of running 1,000 COVID-19 tests daily.
At the moment, Malaysia’s current capacity is 16,000 tests per day and the additional 6,000 tests will bring the total daily capacity to 22,000.
Malaysia above benchmark in COVID-19 testing
The health D-G has shared that Malaysia’s COVID-19 tests are currently performing above the benchmark. He gave an example in China, in an area with 110 million population, the local authorities had conducted 30,000 tests per day.
He also quoted an article by the WHO about testing benchmarks where the positive rate is 10%. At the moment, Malaysia is doing better with a positive rate of 4%. He said that if the positive rate is above 10%, it is an indication that testing is not enough and more tests are required to detect more positive cases within the community.
As of 12pm today, a total of 144,686 samples were taken and 5,820 (4.02%) are positive.
In Malaysia, the testing is done based on a targeted approach on locality and high-risk group. He gave an example of the Kuala Lumpur wholesale market which has exposure to the Tabligh group. Rather than to screen everyone in the country or all 6 million foreign workers, the MOH’s approach is to focus on locality and targetted group that has a higher risk.
He also said that based on COVID-19 reports throughout the MCO phase 1, 2 and 3, the results are proof that the targeted approach works. At the moment, Malaysia is in the recovery phase with double-digit daily cases and we have managed to flatten the curve and prevented the exponential surge of cases which was expected on the 14th of April. Since the current approach has shown results, the MOH will continue to embrace the targeted approach when it comes to COVID-19 testing.
If there’s a big concern for a locality, then the MCO will be enhanced for that area. This is whereby everyone in that area will be screened, rather than the whole state or district.
Call for blood donation
Dr Noor Hisham has also called upon blood donors to come forward as there’s a shortage of blood every Ramadhan. Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has announced that the public is permitted to go to hospitals and health clinic for blood donation between 10am to 10pm during the MCO. He said that the National Blood Centre’s current supply has decreased by as much as 33% since the MCO was imposed. However, the health D-G has noted that the demand for blood is less during the MCO as trauma cases due to accidents have decreased.