Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba

KUCHING: The Rapid Test Kit Antigen (RTK-Antigen) has an advantage of being able to detect Covid-19 in large numbers within a short time, while the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rT-PCR) test takes a longer processing time but is able to detect Covid-19 even at a lower viral load.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said that RTK-Antigen has passed the technical evaluation of the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and has a sensitivity of 90 percent.

“There have been incidences where patients are said to be false negative. This means that out of 100 people screened, there may be ten people who receive false negatives.

“It is most likely that the individual receiving a false negative is in the incubation period when the viral content is too low to be detected with the RTK-Antigen,” he said in reply to Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing in Parliament yesterday.

Therefore, he stressed that all individuals screened still had to undergo a 14-day quarantine as stipulated in the Covid-19 management policy.

He said that if symptoms arose during this 14-day period, the matter must be notified to the nearest District Health Office for further action.

“The first test result does not mean that an individual is free from Covid-19,” he said.

Dr Adham explained that RTK-Antigen was different from rT-PCR, with the latter involving molecular diagnostic technique whereby Covid-19 could be detected even with a low number of viral copies compared to RTK-Antigen.

According to him, RTK-Antigen takes between 40 minutes to an hour to carry out compared to six to eight hours for rT-PCR tests.