COMMENT | How much testing is enough? It’s complicated

Koh Jun Lin

Modified 18 Feb 2021, 8:40 am

COMMENT | One of the key measures of a country’s Covid-19 response is how much testing is done. The more cases in the community, the greater the need to expand testing to keep pace with the outbreak.

But just how much testing is enough?

At a press conference on Tuesday, Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the benchmark set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is to have at least ten negative tests for every person found to be positive.

In other words, the test positivity rate should be no higher than about 10 percent. Any higher, it suggests many cases are being missed.

Noor Hisham then went on to say that Malaysia had far exceeded that standard. On Monday, the country detected 2,176 cases against 41,895 RT-PCR and RTK-Ag tests performed.

This corresponds to a positivity rate of 5.19 percent.

However, several sources including health experts quoted in previous Malaysiakini reports had instead cited a five percent figure as the benchmark to meet. One source, the website "Our World in Data", even cited WHO for setting it as the benchmark.

So, who is right? And how did ... 

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