Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin posted a two-minute video on Twitter yesterday, advising Malaysians to reduce dependence on the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests during the country’s transition to the endemic phase of COVID-19. Instead, he urges the public to rely more on rapid self-test kits, which have recently become more widely available to the public.
The minister insists that the Antigen Rapid Test Kit (RTK-Ag) is more effective in tackling the Omicron wave, as it provides results in just 15 minutes. “This compares with RT-PCR which is so sensitive that people who have recovered still tested positive on RT-PCR,” he explained. “In the current situation where the Omicron variant spreads rapidly, RTK is more effective as there is no need to wait 24 to 48 hours to know whether one is positive or not.”
Ujian RTK membolehkan kita mengesan kes positif yang ‘infective’ dengan lebih pantas & mengasingkan diri terutama dalam gelombang Omicron di mana varian ini cepat merebak. RT-PCR boleh digunakan dalam situasi tertentu seperti untuk ke luar negara atau untuk pulang ke Malaysia. pic.twitter.com/6KpLjs3dxW
— Khairy Jamaluddin 🇲🇾🌺 (@Khairykj) March 14, 2022
Khairy stressed that the speedy result of self-test kits would also allow citizens to take immediate action such as going under self-quarantine, if found positive. Furthermore, he added that the RTK-Ag is also cheaper than RT-PCR tests and, as mentioned earlier, is readily available on the market. The minister also advised citizens who’ve tested positive from the self-test need not seek a confirmation test through RT-PCR screening.
In regards to the reliability of COVID-19 self-test kits, Khairy noted that the health ministry – through the Medical Device Authority (MDA) – have been directed to continue monitoring the quality of RTK-Ag kits available in the market. This was also confirmed by domestic trade and consumer affairs minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi last week. The government will take necessary actions on products that do not meet the required standards set by the ministry of health, Khairy added.