KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 22): The compulsory Covid-19 screening of foreign workers is a good move by the government, but issues currently faced by general practitioners with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Rapid Test Kit (RTK) antigen swab testing need to be ironed out by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to ensure more large-scale testings can be carried out smoothly.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said the current SOPs, whereby Covid-19 positive samples need to be sent to admitting hospitals, also cause delays and an increase in red tape.
"As the RTK antigen-tested positive patients will eventually need to undergo an RT-PCR swab test at the admission hospital, we feel it is an unnecessary process to send the samples," he said in a statement.
On Nov 20, Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government had agreed for health screenings to be made compulsory for all foreign workers in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Sabah, the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan using the RTK antigen method.
Subramaniam also said that the current SOPs, whereby a patient confirmed to be positive for Covid-19 is isolated at the clinic and made to wait for pickup by an ambulance or the District Health Office officers, are not practical.
This is because there were cases when patients were made to wait for hours for transportation to arrive due to the heavy workload and, as such, proper transport arrangements for Covid-19 positive patients need to be put in place.
He added that the issue of widespread commercialisation of Covid-19 screening must also be given a more serious view by the government, with the MMA having recently raised its concerns over organisations not registered with the health authorities providing Covid-19 swab tests.
He said there are many middlemen and non-healthcare-related agents involved in the screening as well as swab tests being conducted by facilities that are registered with the MoH.
"This must be performed by trained healthcare professionals or patients can face the risk of injuries, health issues, and even false negative results if the swab tests are performed incorrectly," he said.