Dr Yii urges govt to ensure sufficient, affordable supply of self-test kits during Omicron wave

File photo of rapid self-test kits.

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KUCHING, Feb 9: The Federal government must take proactive steps to ensure continuous availability and affordability of Covid-19 antigen self-test kits in the markets nationwide in view of the surge in demand for the items as cases spike during this Omicron wave.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii made this call after Sabah reported a shortage of self-test kits as Covid-19 cases increased over the past few days, with 1,600 infections recorded yesterday.

“This may not be an isolated event and as such, proper monitoring and intervention by the Federal government is crucial to ensure sufficient supply of test kits in Sabah and all other places affected.

“(There must) not be a sudden spike in prices, especially when demand for the items increased significantly following the spike in Covid-19 cases nationwide,” he said in a statement today.

With the fast-spreading Omicron variant, he cautioned that it is inevitable that the country will see more and more infections as people traveling for the holidays could cause new outbreaks, while the country is facing possibility of another “super-spreader event” with the upcoming Johor elections.

Dr Yii suggested that the government get a general review and audit the supply of test kits available nationwide and come up with a projection of the daily needs of testing in order to ensure the supply and production of test kits are sufficient and widely accessible by the people.

The Federal government could also offer incentives and grants to local companies to mass produce the rapid self-test kits which, ideally, should be distributed to the public for free.

“One of the fundamentals to shorten the surge period of Omicron is the need for quick and fast testing due to the variant’s swift pace of transmission, which again placed the importance on the shift to self-tests from PCR (swab) tests.

“Such transition is important to ensure infection-detection at labs do not buckle under the strain of unprecedented numbers of cases as many of the healthcare facilities are already facing a shortage in staff,” he emphasised.

An uncontrollable runaway Omicron outbreak, he said, will definitely drive-up hospitalisation rates and put a strain on the testing systems.

“Omicron has been a game changer. It has really catalysed the shift to large-scale rapid antigen testing, and we must be ready for it or will continuously be left behind,” he added.— DayakDaily