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A pharmacy staff holds up the Gmate Covid-19 rapid antigen self-test kits in Subang Jaya July 28, 2021. — Pictures by Shafwan Zaidon
A pharmacy staff holds up the Gmate Covid-19 rapid antigen self-test kits in Subang Jaya July 28, 2021. — Pictures by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 ― Since last Tuesday when Covid-19 self-test kits first went on sale at Sunway Pharmacy, about 5,000 kits have been sold.

Other pharmacies Malay Mail visited also report brisk sales. But who are the ones buying?

Sunway Pharmacy’s Syarifah Nazira Said Ramli said both companies as well as individuals have purchased these kits.

Covid-19 self-test kits can help reduce infection rates, the pharmacist said.

“It is helpful when a Covid-19 suspect-case wants to get tested and doesn’t need to leave home, travel to a clinic or hospital and risk infecting others.

“With our delivery system already in place, this also offers extra safety precautions and prevents direct contact with a suspected Covid-19 patient,” Syarifah added.

She said the high number of purchases could also mean that more are getting tested as a precaution.

“Especially in Selangor, with so many cases recorded each day, and clusters concentrated at work places, we are glad to see that the majority of our self-test kits are bought by employers, which means they are doing their part in getting their employees tested too.

“I hope this self-testing option can help prevent the infection from spreading at work places,” she said.

Syarifah said at the pharmacy, they also offer pre- and post-test advice as this is the first time self-test kits are introduced in the country for the detection of Covid-19 virus.

“Most of our customers ask what they should do after they have done the self-testing. We try our best to guide them through the process,”she said.

Over at a Caring Pharmacy branch in Ampang, pharmacist Suan Yii said most of the self-test kits sold were pre-ordered by customers who were urgently in need of getting tested.

“Here we have the culture of pre-order even for other items, so it was a smooth process when our customers came in to place their orders.

“They are just required to pay a deposit and collect when the test kits arrive.

“Some of our customers also bought extra test kits, knowing that we are located in a high risk area and they may need to get themselves tested since they are also travelling for work,” she said.

Gmate Covid-19 rapid antigen self-test kits are pictured at a pharmacy in Subang Jaya July 28, 2021.
Gmate Covid-19 rapid antigen self-test kits are pictured at a pharmacy in Subang Jaya July 28, 2021.

Over in Subang Jaya and Puchong, several pharmacies also reported that their self-test kits have sold out.

A pharmacy manager at SS15, Subang Jaya said they sell about 300 kits a day.

The pharmacy manager, who wanted to be known as Chua, said a bulk of their sales went to company or business owners.

“There are restaurants, small manufacturers and many offices around SS15 that have recently opened, which are ordering the kits to test their staff,” she said.

Similarly, Khor Ker Yi who manages the BIG Pharmacy outlet in Bandar Puteri Puchong said that the pharmacy has only been able to cater to pre-orders.

“We are still servicing pre-orders from July 23, I don’t have enough for walk-in customers,” she said.

Another pharmacist in USJ Taipan said self-test kits were selling out fast due to its price point when compared to getting tested at a clinic.

“It’s so much cheaper than getting tested at the clinic, especially now when people don’t have enough money.

“I have about 1,000 enquiries on the self-test kit stock availability. We started selling last Thursday and by Saturday there was no more stock available,” she said.

The recommended retail price for these kits is RM39.90 while the average price for an Antigen test (RTK-Ag) can start from RM70. An RT-PCR test can be anything from RM190 to RM330.

The Health Ministry (MoH) had last week conditionally approved two Covid-19 self-test kits for import and distribution.

This was done through the Medical Devices Authority, an organisation in the MoH in charge of enforcing medical device regulations and medical device registration.

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