Damansara MP: Boost targeted Covid testing

by NURUL SUHAIDI / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) should drastically increase its targeted testing and implement a National Testing Plan, as part of a whole approach to fighting Covid-19 and its variants, says Damansara MP Tony Pua (picture).

Pua said that this plan, however, is not for the MoH to undertake on its own.

“Stakeholders such as private hospitals, private clinics, factories, workplaces and even individuals through readily available self-test kits must cooperate,” Pua said in a statement.

“We must build a national capacity to test at least 1% that is approximately 300,000 tests a day as a contingency to deal with any further outbreaks in the future,” he added.

On Tuesday, MoH reported 12,366 Covid-19 positive cases from 124,519 test samples. That translates to a positivity rate of 9.93%.

The DAP National Publicity secretary added during the first week of the third Movement Control Order (MCO 3.0) starting May 23, 2021, MoH carried out 109,601 average daily tests to return 7,631 average daily positive cases or 6.96% positivity.

“Based on rising positivity rate of around 10% today, we are severely under-testing for Covid-19 to detect cases and outbreaks in the community,” he said in a statement.

He added that it was only last week that MoH finally carried out more tests than during the first week of MCO 3.0.

For the week starting 11 July, an average of 120,165 tests was carried out daily, which returned a positivity of 9.35% or 11,237 positive results daily.

“If the positivity rate has effectively risen to 10% as it has over the past few days, it means the number of targeted samples to be tested has to effectively double as well to meaningfully and effective record and determine the number of infected in the community,” Pua explained.

This is the initial step towards quarantine and isolation, and where possible contact tracing to prevent the infection rate from spiralling out of control as it had over the past two months.

He stated that the method of “targeted testing” must correlate to the test outcomes and results. When the positivity of the tests exceeds 5%, the targeted testing approach should automatically increase the number of tests to a sample size that reduces the positivity to less than 5%.