Coronavirus: Asia

Malaysia fails to meet WHO threshold for testing rate

A Covid-19 vaccination centre in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia had an average Covid-19 test positivity rate of 6.89 per cent in the past week, higher than the WHO threshold, indicating more testing should be done.
A Covid-19 vaccination centre in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia had an average Covid-19 test positivity rate of 6.89 per cent in the past week, higher than the WHO threshold, indicating more testing should be done.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PETALING JAYA • Malaysia's average Covid-19 test positivity rate of 6.89 per cent in the past week is higher than the threshold set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), said Health Minister Adham Baba yesterday.

The positivity rate indicates the percentage of positive Covid-19 cases detected out of the total tests conducted.

Higher positivity rates mean that more testing should be done, as it suggests that there are more people with the disease in the community who have not been detected yet.

The threshold set by the WHO for adequate testing is a 5 per cent positivity rate.

Datuk Seri Adham said that some states in the country even exceeded 10 per cent, with Kelantan having the highest test positivity rate at 11.84 per cent, followed by Negeri Sembilan at 10.03 per cent.

The most populated state, Selangor, posted a high rate of 7.99 per cent, while the rate in capital Kuala Lumpur was 5.72 per cent.

Three states fell below the WHO threshold - Perak (4.78 per cent), Sabah (3.83 per cent) and Perlis (3.79 per cent).

The announcement comes as Malaysia enters a total lockdown today as part of a three-phase measure announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to battle the country's deadliest surge of coronavirus infections since the pandemic began early last year.

On Saturday, it reported 9,020 new infections and 98 deaths from the coronavirus - record highs in both categories. Daily case numbers have dipped since then, with 6,824 new infections reported yesterday and 67 deaths.

Meanwhile, Malaysia is ramping up its vaccination efforts with coordinating minister for the inoculation plan Khairy Jamaluddin announcing yesterday that an industrial vaccination programme, which will cover foreign workers, will start soon.

Mr Khairy said: "Under the programme, we will prioritise industries which cannot close or where it is not possible for employees to work from home during this movement control order period.

"This includes foreign workers, who will be given vaccinations at the same time as local workers."

He also said that mobile Covid-19 vaccination trucks will be used to vaccinate residents of Kuala Lumpur in certain areas.

"The outreach programme for vaccination using mobile trucks will go to areas such as PPR housing areas and construction sites which are still operating during the total lockdown period," Mr Khairy said, referring to low-cost housing projects.

He also announced that around 400,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and around 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses would arrive this week. AstraZeneca is the third vaccine made available under the government scheme.

But, for now, Malaysians will not get to choose which vaccines they are given as this will only slow down the vaccination process, he said.

The government's priority now, said Mr Khairy, is to accelerate the inoculation programme.

"Now, the concern is to increase and ramp up the numbers and give whatever we have," he told reporters after visiting the mega vaccination centre at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre on Sunday.

He added that in the past two days, the country had dispensed 107,000 vaccinations a day, adding that this would reach 150,000 jabs daily soon with the arrival of more vaccines.

"I want to ensure that the 150,000 becomes an average rather than a peak once in a while," he said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2021, with the headline 'Malaysia fails to meet WHO threshold for testing rate'. Subscribe