KUCHING, July 22: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii is calling on the Ministry of Health (MOH) to come up with a comprehensive National Testing Strategy to address what he termed to be a “severe lack of Covid-19 testing” as well as to be incorporated as an important element in the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
According to Dr Yii, the National Testing Strategy must focus on comprehensive steps for each phase of intervention, whether containment or mitigation, and it must have clear objectives and defined approaches and methods, in order to achieve the desired health outcomes while handling the current surge of cases, or in preparation for future outbreaks.
“The first prong of such a strategy must incorporate ways to increase its testing capacity to truly reflect the real disease burden on the ground, and the second prong of this National Testing Strategy has to be to prepare the people for the ‘new normal’ which will include frequent and continuous testing either before going to work or even to attend a social event,” he said in a statement today.
“If we do not ramp up our testing and tracing significantly, we will not know how many carriers out there who can spread the virus, and the longer we take to isolate them, the higher the amount of people they can spread it to,” he added.
For the second prong Dr Yii pointed out that the government must look at firstly regulating such kits through the Medical Device Authority (MDA) to ensure its sensitivity and specificity, and then subsidising it to make sure it is affordable and accessible for all industries and even personal use.
He said the government must make available cheap saliva-based RTK-Ag tests at commercial pharmacies and government health centres for any member of the public to do self-testing at home.
For industries, he explained, clear testing standard operating procedures (SOPs) which includes frequency of testing can be formulated based on risk-assessment of each industry, and for high-risk industries, they can have more frequent testing compared to lower risk industries.
“This then must be accompanied by a comprehensive reporting SOP for people to inform the authorities of a positive test as well as for it to be connected to the national system for contact tracing and case reporting.
“The public who are asymptomatic or having mild symptoms can be home quarantined and monitored virtually via video calls by either healthcare officers from the Ministry of Health or even the private General Practitioners (GPs). Anyone with symptoms or signs of deterioration (clinical stage 3 to 5) must be brought to hospital for immediate care.
“All these have to be incorporated into our country’s national recovery plan as well as to prepare ourselves for the new normal to live with an endemic Covid-19,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily