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Ministry: Virus test machine unreliable

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Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said at a press conference at the Council of Ministers on Monday. Hean Rangsey

Ministry: Virus test machine unreliable

The Ministry of Health warned on Monday that the online promotion and sale of rapid testing machines for Covid-19 are endangering public health even as the government is fighting the growing pandemic in the Kingdom.

Speaking at a press conference at the Council of Ministers, its spokesperson Or Vandine said: “According to the World Health Organisation [WHO] studies and evaluation, those machines are of very poor quality. [They] show poor results and are unreliable. This is a point.

“Another point is that those who are positive for Covid-19 have been tested negative when using such machines, while those who are tested negative when using the machines have been proven to be positive for Covid-19. So this kind of result is very dangerous for public health.”

Vandine said this is the reason why the WHO did not suggest using such machines. However, the WHO is speeding up work on machines that are reliable.

“It hopes that in the near future, there will be a ray of light and additional advice. But I dare not say how soon that will be because it is based on WHO’s decision on rapid tests,” she said.

On Sunday, the authorities detained a woman in her 20s in Russey Keo district. He had advertised the online sale of rapid testing machines for Covid-19 after it was banned by the ministry.

A commune police official at Kilometre 6, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Post on Monday that before her arrest, the woman had posted on Facebook that there is a machine that can test Covid-19.

Senior-level authorities saw the post and ordered their subordinates to investigate. The woman was traced to the Kilometre 6 commune and arrested.

“When the authorities searched her house, she did not have the machines on hand even though she posted on Facebook that she had them. District police officers took her in for questioning as per legal procedure,” he said.

Russey Keo district police chief Heang Thareth told The Post on Monday that the woman was sent to the municipal police office but municipal police chief Sar Thet could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Phnom Penh authorities checked 12 pharmacies in Tapang market in Daun Penh district to ascertain if the machines were being sold, but none were found according to National Police.

The same day, the Ministry of Health warned the public not to use Covid-19 self-testing kits as illegally advertised by some individuals with exaggerated claims. The ministry called on the authorities to take legal action against them.

Vandine urged the public not to be taken in by online promotions selling such self-testing kits as they were illegal and the claims had not been verified by the ministry or WHO.

“Please do not waste your money on test kits as it has not been confirmed as effective. If you have any problem, please call 115 for our doctors to check and evaluate your health,” she said.

After a meeting at the National Assembly on Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on the public not to believe in the Covid-19 test kits, and any medicines which are allegedly able to treat the coronavirus.

He ordered the authorities to take action against those making such claims.

“I order the authorities to arrest the persons promoting the sale of such machines online or medications that claim to cure Covid-19. There is no further need to educate them. Those who announced it online must be found immediately. This is not a question of freedom of speech,” he said.

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