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Ministry of Health to launch respiratory infection survey

Izah Azahari

As part of its monitoring and surveillance measures against respiratory infections in the Sultanate, the Ministry of Health (MoH) will randomly invite patients being treated at flu clinics, especially those with influenza-like illness (ILI), to undergo RT-PCR laboratory testing.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar said this during the daily press conference yesterday.

The minister said those tested positive for COVID-19 using antigen rapid test (ART) kits will also be randomly contacted by the MoH to undergo RT-PCR testing.

“This will enable the ministry to obtain information on the type of infection present,” said the minister.

He added that if the virus detected is SARS-CoV-2, genome sequencing tests will also be performed to identify the variants present in the country.

“The public invited to undergo swab tests for surveillance purposes, is welcome to take part in the initiative to aid the ministry in obtaining quality surveillance for the safety and well-being of the people and residents of the country,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said.

The minister added that it is not compulsory for those who have been chosen to participate in the testing. However, the ministry hopes for public support to monitor the variant types present in the Sultanate.

On whether returning travellers or inbound visitors have contributed to a majority of new COVID-19 cases now that the country has eased air travel restrictions, the minister said most cases are still local as those coming into the country only make up one to three per cent of the total daily cases.

Taking yesterday’s total new cases as an example, the minister said, out of the 379 new COVID-19 cases, only seven were travellers.