Covid-19 self-test kits which have hit the market will be vital in the war against the coronavirus as they help increase testing, say two health experts.
Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the RTK-antigen self-test kits would enable the public to control and be responsible for their own health and safety.
“For people who have mild symptoms or symptoms which are not clear-cut, these self-test kits will help them take precautionary measures to protect themselves and their family members.
“And if they are a close contact, the self-test kits will help them self-monitor and seek earlier treatment if they do contract the virus,” he told FMT.
Recently, the health ministry gave its approval to several self-test kits to be used in the country. These include one self-test kit that utilises nasal and oral swabs and four others that rely on saliva samples.
Lee said self-test kits would also be helpful in screening large groups of people as they could tell if a person was Covid-19 positive in less than 20 minutes.
He also said it was good that the results of these kits would be linked to the MySejahtera application.
On Friday, it was reported that test results from Salixium, the first Malaysia-made self-test kit, were now integrated into the MySejahtera mobile application, allowing its users to send their test results directly to the health ministry.
“In future, the MySejahtera application can be a travel passport where you have details of your vaccination and the negative result from your self-test kit. This will allow the public to have more freedom to travel,” he said.
Lee said that when it came to self-test kits, a nasal and oral swab test has a higher accuracy to detect the amount of viral load and is less intrusive than a normal swab test.
However, he said, the self-test kits should not deter the public from getting vaccinated as that was the country’s main priority now.
While adopting self-test kits could be part of the national strategy, he believed that the government’s immediate focus should be on beefing up the public health system.
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said although self-test kits could help widen testing, they should be reasonably priced.
He said self-test kits which were approved by the Institute for Medical Research could form an important tool in controlling the pandemic.
“This will enable the public to test whenever and wherever it’s convenient for them,” he said, adding that linking the results with MySejahtera would also make data collection more reliable. - FMT