KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 21): The Government is working to increase its Covid-19 testing capacity to 150,000 a day, which is more than double the current 70,000, said Ministry of Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today.
There are now 68 facilities that can conduct the RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests, and their capacity could be ramped up to a maximum 100,000 a day. The country only had 23 labs at the start of 2020, when the pandemic started to spread here, which could conduct about 1,000 RT-PCR tests a day.
To further increase the testing capacity, MoH is looking into setting up new testing facilities in Tawau and Lahad Datu, Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference today. However, he did not set a time frame for when the 150,000-tests-a-day target should be achieved.
He also stressed again the importance of public-private cooperation in tackling the pandemic. “This is where we need to train more people. We encourage the private sector to come in [to train with us] to increase and maximise the capacity of both the public and private sectors,” he said.
Private hospitals, he said, have been assisting MoH since the start of the second wave of Covid-19 infections in the country. As example, he cited how MoH has been able to mobilise some private hospitals' specialists and staff to help out at the Sungai Buloh Hospital.
Non-Covid-19 patients have also been moved to private hospitals to decongest some public hospitals, he added.
The Ministry is also going to set up a Covid-19 assessment centre by next week which will be in charge of assigning new Covid-19 patients to designated hospitals or quarantine centres and monitor them.
High-risk groups will be admitted to either the hospital or quarantine center, while low-risk groups could be home monitored, he added.
“We are also looking at how we can monitor (the low-risk groups) through the MySejahtera app and we will rope in general practitioners as well to help MoH in monitoring these patients,” Dr Noor Hisham said.
He also reiterated his hope that the increase in new cases will stabilise soon and decline in three to four weeks, given the reinstatement of the Movement Control Order or MCO 2.0, without which the Ministry had projected that daily cases could climb to as many as 8,000 by the third week of March.
Malaysia logged another 3,170 new Covid-19 cases today, its eighth consecutive day with over 3,000 cases in a day, pushing cumulative infections to date to 172,549. The death toll from the coronavirus here now stands at 642, with 12 more fatalities added.