PUTRAJAYA (April 16): The Ministry of Health (MoH) has approved the use of an antigen rapid test kit from South Korea that will help the ministry achieve its initial target of a maximum capacity of 16,500 Covid-19 tests per day nationwide.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry has already placed a procurement order from South Korean firm, SD Biosensor, adding the rapid test kits may arrive as early as next week.
Dr Noor Hisham said these test kits have met the ministry’s accuracy requirement with a sensitivity rate of 84.4% and specificity rate of 100%.
“With the antigen rapid test kit, testing can be done at point-of-care. That means you do not need to send the swab test samples to our 43 labs to get the results,” he said at the ministry’s daily Covid-19 press conference here.
“It can actually be done at our clinics or hospitals. They just need to be equipped with biosafety cabinets,” he added. A biosafety cabinet is an enclosed but ventilated laboratory workspace for safely working with materials contaminated with pathogens.
The D-G previously said antigen rapid test kits can return results within 1-2 hours, and that the ministry had been evaluating rapid test kits from various firms from South Korea and China.
Malaysia has so far been relying on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to diagnose the presence of the novel coronavirus, which takes a long period of time, as their samples need to be sent to the laboratories.
A PCR test typically takes six hours but because of the large volume of samples to be tested and having to get these samples to the laboratory, such a test can take up to 48 hours before the results can be obtained.
In a bid to reduce the backlog of tests at laboratories, the country has also been using antibody or serology tests as a final check at the end of a 14-day mandatory quarantine period for suspected coronavirus cases.