Demand for Covid-19 test kits soar in Malaysia

Besides the recent festivities, the demand for self-test kits was also due to the recent increase in Covid-19 cases.

Wani Muthiah and Stephanie Lee

Wani Muthiah and Stephanie Lee

The Star


Hot item: Covid-19 test kits have been selling like hotcakes due to the rising number of cases. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

February 10, 2022

KLANG –  Sales of Covid-19 test kits have increased drastically since the recent Chinese New Year celebrations, resulting in supply shortages as well as price hikes in some locations.

For example, Lee Pharmacy Port Klang manager Nelly Teoh said the price hike was between 50 sen and RM1 per set for the popular brands.

“Currently, the most popular variety is the lollipop variety, which one has to put under the tongue to detect infection,” said Teoh, adding that the kits were used by those who attended Chinese New Year gatherings and in schools to test students and teachers.

“Schools have been actively testing after they reopened. Some schools prefer a particular brand and because of this, that brand is facing a shortage,” said Teoh.

Sree Sentosa Pharmacy supervisor K. Kavitha said many parents were stocking up test kits to test their children before sending them to school.

Pharmacist CL Lam, who owns a pharmacy near Bukit Tinggi here, said Covid-19 test kits were selling like hotcakes.

“I suppose people feel a sense of security when the self-test kits show a negative result and that is why sales have gone up after the recent festivities,” he said, adding that some people could also be carrying out several tests on themselves over a span of a few days.

When contacted, Malaysian Pharmacists Society president Amrahi Buang said besides the recent festivities and merrymaking, the demand for self-test kits was also due to the recent increase in Covid-19 cases.

“The increase in cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant has also created a high demand for test kits,” said Amrahi, adding that the reopening of schools also caused the demand for test kits to soar.

To make matters worse, logistical problems due to the recent holidays were also among the reasons behind the supply shortage.

“We think this logistics issue will be settled by this week,” said Amrahi, adding that demand and supply of Covid-19 test kits fell under the jurisdiction of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry.

Shortages of Covid-19 test kits were also reported in Sabah.

Bev Joeman said she visited shops and pharmacies around Damai and Foh Sang near Kota Kinabalu, but could not get even one test kit.

“There are nine of us in the family and we need them because some of us are starting to experience mild fevers and coughs while some recently had casual contact with a Covid-19-positive relative,” she said, adding that she only managed to get five self-test kits after visiting several places.

“Cases are rising and these kits are going out of stock, so we are quite concerned,” Joeman added.

Claudius Chan posted on Facebook that she too had a hard time trying to get test kits in her hometown of Beaufort, while Zura Wong from Papar added that many shops in her area were facing similar shortages.

In Tuaran, notices had been put up informing customers that test kits were out of stock.

Mariah Doksil is trying to remain calm after a child in her son’s preschool class recently tested positive for Covid-19.

“I will try to look for test kits again tomorrow and also check if any of us starts to fall sick,” said the mother of three.

She added that she would go to the hospital or a private clinic if the situation worsened.

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