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Health ministry greenlights use of Covid home test kits

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The Ministry of Health has given permission to individuals to use the Covid-19 rapid antigen test at home or privately if they suspect they have contracted Covid-19. Hean Rangsey

Health ministry greenlights use of Covid home test kits

The Ministry of Health has given permission to individuals to use the Covid-19 rapid antigen test at home or privately if they suspect they have contracted Covid-19.

The ministry released a 20-page Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on how to use the test kits for private health establishments, public and private institutions, border checkpoints, factories and enterprises and at construction sites, among others.

“To contribute to the effective prevention, containment, and control of Covid-19, these [procedures] also have the scope to cover rapid antigen tests at home or privately. This will replace previous Covid-19 rapid antigen tests used in authorised private health services,” health minister Mam Bun Heng said in an SOP document released on July 7.

“[Individual] must follow safety condition and all necessary instructions as stated in the SOP,” he said.

The ministry said as of July 7 it had approved four types of rapid tests device, including the ABBOTT PANBIOth Covid-19 Ag RAPID Test Device, Roche SARS-Cov-2 Rapid Antigen Test 25T, Standard Q Covid-19 Ag Test and INDICAID Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Test. But the SOP will be broadly applicable for other devices that the ministry may approve in the future.

Individuals who used the rapid test devices and get a positive result should inform the ministry, local authorities or call hotline number 1222 if they are living in Phnom Penh in order to receive treatment, either at home, treatment facilities or hospitals. If their test result is negative but they believe they have been exposed to someone who has Covid-19, they should place themselves in quarantine.

According to the SOP, the rapid antigen test has a weak point in that it produces ‘false negatives’ in which some people who are actually carrying the disease test negative. But the positive aspects outweigh the negatives because it helps cut the transmission chain.

Moreover, the tests are easy to use and are available to purchase at low prices and the results come quickly. The device is more accurate if the patient has any symptoms, the ministry said.

Bun Heng said in the preface that this SOP was released in light of the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

“It is my fervent hope that the officials, staff and [everyone] will use the rapid antigen test device correctly according to this SOP. Our working group will update this document as necessary according to the development of the Covid-19 situation in Cambodia,” he said.

The ministry said it was the only institution that could approve such devices, and it forbids monopoly import of them to ensure that there will be enough supplies for the whole country.

“Only the devices that the ministry has recognised will be permitted for use in Cambodia and only the results of tests with these devices will be accepted by the health authorities,” it said in the SOP.

The rapid test devices can be purchased from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. The ministry has placed purchased order for an additional 800,000 devices from South Korea.

As of July 8, Cambodia had recorded a total of 58,057 Covid-19 cases with 50,020 recoveries and 825 fatalities. On July 8 alone, the health ministry reported 954 cases, 136 of which were imported, and 27 deaths.

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