PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's health ministry will be discharging Covid-19 patients even if they are tested positive at the end of their two-week hospital treatment because they would not be able to infect others, said the ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
He said they are changing from the previous protocol in which they would continue to keep patients hospitalised as long as they are tested positive on the 13th day.
"According to a (recent) World Health Organisation report, if they have passed the 14 days (of treatment), the chances of them infecting others are zero.
"With that new information that we have obtained, if after 14 days, even though the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is positive, we can discharge them, " he said at his daily press briefing on Tuesday (May 26).
Datuk Dr Noor Hisham said Covid-19 patients may still test positive after 14 days due to virus shedding or because the test detected the fragment of the dead virus.
"Last time, before we discharged a patient, on the 13th day, we will collect a sample from the patient. One negative was not enough, we will collect two samples in a period of more than 24 hours.
"When we had two negatives in a period of more than 24 hours, then only we would discharge the patients.
"Later, we changed (the protocol), with one negative being enough for us to discharge the patient.
"However, we have received info from WHO and research from other countries that the infectivity declines after 14 days.
"Even if the PCR test detects the virus, it would be because of virus shedding or the fragment of a dead virus, so when it is detected by the PCR test, it is a weak positive. So the infectivity is almost zero, " he said.
Malaysia currently has 7,604 coronavirus cases in the country, with 115 fatalities.
In the past few days, the majority of the cases are from migrant workers housed in detention centres for undocumented migrants.
Dr Noor Hisham said from now on, all new detainees entering the centres will be screened for Covid-19.
"We will also provide screening for those who are involved in managing the detention centres. We have identified detention centres as a high-risk area," he said.
Dr Noor Hisham said investigation into the source of infection at the detention centres was on-going.
"It is possible that the transmission is from those (who were detained) from the enhanced movement control order operation or employees who are providing cleaning services," he said.