The third wave of COVID-19 has hit Malaysia in a big way and the state of Selangor has seen a big spike in new cases this week. Given the circumstance, there is an urgent need for more testing. Bukit Gasing ADUN Rajiv Rishyakaran announced that his office is offering COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kits (RTK-AG) for the general public at a reduced price of RM70 per test.
For those not in the know, there are two main methods of testing COVID-19. There is the RTK-AG method as stated earlier and there is RT-PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction). The main difference between the tests is the RTK-AG method has a much quicker turnaround time that yields results in just minutes whereas the RT-PCR method takes 24-48 hours to show results from a lab and it costs much more.
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), the RTK-AG method serves as an alternative to RT-PCR when results are needed in a short period of time. However, due to its limitation in sensitivity and detection, testing using RTK-AG is considered as a screening test whereas RT-PCR is used as a confirmatory test to define a COVID-19 case.
The Malaysian Paediatric Association stated that the PCR nasal swab tests costs between RM380 and RM450 at drive-through laboratories. Meanwhile, the RTK-AG test, it is stated to cost between RM150 and RM180 at private healthcare facilities.
The initiative was initially offered exclusively for Bukit Gasing residents earlier this month but has been expanded as an effort to bring down the cost of COVID-19 testing and make the tests accessible to the public at large.
Rajiv said during a press conference, “We have procured the exact same RTK-AG kits from the same vendor as the MOH and we are providing these kits to participating clinics. We have negotiated a decent bulk price and thus are able to offer the test to the public at RM70 without subsidy.”
In addition, Bukit Gasing residents in the B40 category who are registered under BPN (Bantuan Prihatin Nasional) can get tested at a subsidised rate of RM30 per person.
Two private clinics in the Bukit Gasing area are involved in the initiative, though Rajiv declined to name them. He also added that the doctors conducting the COVID-19 screening with the test kits are certified by the MOH.
Malaysia’s testing rate is currently at 76.4 per 1,000 people, with a positive detection rate of 2%. The MOH is said to be ramping up the use of the RTK-AG test kits in screening due to its accuracy and it can show the result within 15 mins of testing. To date, the MOH has procured more than 1.1 million RTG-AG test kits for use nationwide and it is used in government healthcare facilities.
WE HAVE EXPANDED THE INITIATIVE FOR ALL!— Rajiv Rishyakaran (@rajiv4malaysia) November 24, 2020
You can now get a COVID-19 test done at an affordable rate. We are using the exact same Rapid Test Kit – Antigen (RTK-AG) used by MOH and it will be conducted in MOH certified participating private clinics. pic.twitter.com/AK7yfGbphD
“We understand that even the MOH has its limitations when it comes to testing. Those who want to be tested, or need to be tested, should be able to get tested at an affordable price,” he said.
How to apply to get tested for COVID-19
Members of the public that want to get the test are advised to register and provide their details such as name, address, IC number and contact number via WhatsApp to 016 306 4104. The testing will be done by appointment only and successful applicants will be notified when their slot is upon successful registration. Should you have any further questions, you can also call the same WhatsApp number.