DAP MPs want govt to ramp up Covid-19 testing

Yeo and Dr Yii

TWO DAP MPs today asked the government to conduct more Covid-19 tests as the country battles to contain the spike in new cases.

Former Minister Yeo Bee Yin has asked why the country’s Covid-19 testing capacity has not reached 150,000 a day, as promised by the government previously.

“There have been calls from many groups, including the opposition lawmakers, to ramp up testing capacity of the country,” the former energy, science, technology, environment and climate change minister said in a statement.

“In fact, back in January, the government had said it targeted to increase RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) testing capacity of the country from about 70,000 to 100,000 with the aim to reach 150,000 testing capacity.”

“Four months have now passed, our testing figures still revolve around 70,000 per day, where is the promised 150,000?” the DAP Bakri MP added.

Yeo said the Covid-19 virus waits for no one and four months is a long time in battling a once-in-a-century global pandemic.

She said Putrajaya has not attempted to conduct large-scale screening initiatives to identify positive cases in the community.

Calls by several quarters to include RTK-Antigen (RTK-Ag) test kits in the screening process were also ignored.

“While RTK-Ag may be less accurate, it makes up for speed and capacity (as it is widely available and not restricted by lab capacity). It surely has a place to play as a stopgap measure as we struggle in increasing RT-PCR capacity,” she said.

Yeo said the government cannot just expect the people to be disciplined and suffer the financial impact of movement control order (MCO) while they are not bucking up on their part.

She added that the most important and straightforward way to contain the virus from spreading is through testing and isolating, with the simple logic that if the positive cases are detected earlier than it is unlikely for it to spread in the community.

“Indeed, tackling Covid-19 crisis is not an easy one, but if after a year, the government can’t even get basic things like tests and isolation right, what hope do Malaysians have?” she said.

Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii expressed worry over the low testing rate during the festive, with 87,458 tested on Thursday, followed by 56,440 people the following day.

“The positive rate on Day one is at 5.78% and it went up on Day 2 to 7.32% which is above the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations of below 5%,” Dr Yii said in a statement.

He added that only by ramping up on testing could carriers be identified and isolated.

It also allowed patients to be diagnosed earlier to be given earlier treatment.

Dr Yii also expressed worries over the drop in vaccination rate during the Hari Raya holidays and hoped it would pick up pace now that the celebrations was over.