COVID-19 Testing at Work: What Employers Need to Know

What’s the difference between PCR and RTK-Antigen tests? Why is employee COVID-19 screening important for businesses in Malaysia? We cover all this and more here.

by Raihan Rahman

Corporate COVID-19 Swab Tests in Malaysia

Since the start of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health have set forth guidelines to help employers create a safe workplace for their workforce. Employers are required to act in accordance with the legal requirements set by the government and put in place workplace procedures to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19.

For Selangor, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry has updated the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the essential service sectors that are allowed to operate throughout the Enhanced Movement Control Order.

Specifically for the manufacturing and manufacturing-related services (MRS) sectors, each employer is responsible to ensure that employees are screened twice weekly. Swab testing in the workplace is not only to ensure employers comply with the law but it is also to ensure the safety of the workforce. As more essential businesses may need a certain number of employees to work from the office or premise, corporate swab tests are becoming more essential.

Swab Testing Method: PCR vs RTK-Antigen

The two most common test methods available in Malaysia for COVID-19 are:

The PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction Test

The PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction Test is the most accurate method for COVID-19 testing. This test method is regarded as the gold standard by the Ministry of Health. The accuracy of the test also makes it the lengthier and more costly of the two options. It is also important to note that a PCR test can only determine a live or active coronavirus infection and cannot tell you if you have contracted the virus in the past.

The RTK-Antigen Test or Antigen Rapid Test Kit

The RTK-Antigen Test or Antigen Rapid Test Kit is the second most common testing method in Malaysia. The RTK test looks at viral proteins that may be related to the coronavirus to get a reactive or non-reactive result. The RTK test can provide results as quick as 15 minutes after the swab is completed. However, compared to the PCR test, the RTK Antigen test has a lower level of accuracy. This testing method can also detect if you have had a coronavirus infection in the past.

Corporate Swab Test Benefits

Workplace Safety

To ensure essential sectors can continue to operate during the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO), organisations must comply with the latest guidelines to avoid being shut down. Corporate swab tests are an essential part of the preparedness or response plan against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On top of temperature screenings and the implementation of an ERT (Emergency Response Team) at the workplace, biweekly swab tests are crucial for the continuation of the day-to-day business.

Convenience and Time

Corporate testing allows employers to screen their employees for a COVID-19 infection on-premises. Employees do not need to travel to the hospital to get tested and can remain where they are. Not only is this the more convenient option, but it is also time-saving and cost-saving in the long run. Employers can make sure that the employees are receiving the same standard of COVID-19 swab testing and at the same cost. 

Employee Confidence

Corporate swab tests also give employees greater peace of mind when reporting to work if they have not been vaccinated. This can help the business or organisation maintain the level of work capacity required. It also allows employers to maintain business operations responsibly while safeguarding employees’ health and wellbeing. 

How It’s Done

What Happens If My Employee Tests Positive?

If your employee tests positive, it is your responsibility to inform the closest District Health Office of the positive case. Your employee must also inform of their positive result via MySejahtera or by calling the relevant state-specific hotlines.

A member of the Emergency Response Team is also responsible to ensure that the employee follows the quarantine guidelines and identifies the close contact of the infected employee. This includes those who have:

  • Came in contact with the positive case at a distance of less than 1 metre
  • Living in the same home as the positive case
  • Had physical touch with the positive case

Real-time contract tracing is highly encouraged to speed up the process of identifying close contacts.

All infected employees must wear a wristband provided by the District Health Office or a private hospital or clinic recognised by the Ministry of Health

Employees can return to work 10 days after they have been discharged without needing a second screening.

Corporate Swab Test Rates by Homage

Minimising the Risk of Exposure

Ultimately, the responsibility of reducing the exposure to COVID-19 at the workplace lies both with the employers and employees. Employers must ensure that they have created and implemented a comprehensive COVID-19 Risk Control Program while also ensuring that they have trained and disseminated relevant information regarding the COVID-19 to their employees. 

On the other hand, employees are responsible to comply with the new regulations set by the employers, continue to maintain social distancing at the workplace and self-declare their health status to protect themselves and their co-workers during this global pandemic.

 

About the Writer
Raihan Rahman
Raihan loves psychological thriller books and horror movies but sleeps with a night light, lest the monsters get her.
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