To minimise the occurrence of false positive or negative results from the antigen rapid test kit (ART), Ministry of Health (MoH) officials on Thursday urged the public to strictly follow instructions on how to carry out COVID-19 screening and to make sure enough sample material has been collected.
Public Health Consultant and Head of Disease Control Division at the MoH Dr Justin Wong in a press conference on Thursday sought to address public concern over the accuracy of ART results.
He said, “No medical test is 100 per cent accurate. The result can be a false negative or a false positive on ART as well as a false negative or a false positive on PCR.
“It is important that after you have done the test to re-confirm the result. If the result is positive, then a second test can increase the positive predictive value. That is currently part of our policy.“
He said people using ART should read the manufacturer’s instruction carefully and ensure that there are enough sample material for the test, as the accuracy issue is a result of not collecting enough material for the test, resulting in a false negative.
Meanwhile, Dr Wong said all the ART kits sold in the country have been “validated externally and by the Department of Laboratory services. We have trust in the test kits that are available”.
Infectious Diseases Consultant Dr Hajah Riamiza Natalie binti Haji Momin said, “There are many people who are trying get a PCR test instead of ART. There is a reason why we are moving away from PCR for the majority of cases.”
She added, “PCR is reserved for very specific situations and we urge the public to adhere to the health protocols.
“The protocols have been carefully thought out by the MoH based on findings in scientific research and what have been done globally.“
She said, “We understand that some companies require their staff to undergo PCR testing to return to work.
“However, there is no need for an individual to have a negative PCR result as proof of recovery. This is no longer required.”
Meanwhile, Dr Wong said, “We are asking the public to declare themselves are close contact if they are. There is no way for the MoH to physically check everyone who is close contact.
Therefore, we are seeking public help on this matter. We are looking at alternative models of tracking close contacts.”
For the current model, he said, “You will need to declare yourself through a self-assessment tool. Carry out ART on first and fifth day and report the results.
“We trust that the citizens will be socially responsible and comply with the protocols.“