: A new antiviral drug, Remdesivir, will be introduced to treat COVID-19 patients in the country, said Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
He said the Ministry of Health (MOH) has received several applications to bring in the medicine.
“There have been applications to bring in the Remdesivir drug and we have approved one or two applications. Insya-Allah, we will introduce this new drug to treat COVID-19 patients," he said at a daily media conference on COVID-19 here today.
Last March 28, Dr Noor Hisham was reported to have said that the existing drugs Clorokuin, Hydroxychloroquine and combination of Lopinavir / Ritonavir that are used to treat other diseases could be used in the treatment of COVID-19.
Asked if the number of COVID-19 tests carried out so far was enough, he said MOH had met the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) benchmark.
He said based on the percentage of 7.2 percent COVID-19 positive cases from all samples taken, it is below the 10 percent set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), hence showing that the country has been performing enough tests.
“We have taken 43,462 samples and the (number of) positive cases are 3,116, meaning the rate of our positive cases is 7.2 percent, about 10 percent," he added.
Prior to this, medical experts claimed that Malaysia is still behind in conducting the tests for COVID-19, despite the increase in positive cases two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the COVID-19 mortality rate in Malaysia, which is at 1.6 per cent, is considered still lo, compared with the global death rate of around 4.5 per cent.
On the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), he said, the problem has been resolved, but the issue now is to send the supplies to hospitals and clinics involved in the treatment of COVID-19.
However, he said, efforts were being made to resolve the matter.
"We hope within this week the issue of distribution will be settled, we have more than 50,000 donated masks and PPE, as well as half a million masks from China for example.
"There are a lot of donations coming in and the issue now is we are trying our best to address the logistic to send to Sabah and Sarawak for example," he added.