March 11, 2020 / 2:25 PM / 21 days ago

Asia's biggest hospital operator offers on-demand coronavirus testing in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 (Reuters) - Asia’s largest private healthcare group IHH Healthcare has begun offering on-demand testing for the new coronavirus at its hospitals in Malaysia, it said on Wednesday.

The group rolled out its diagnostic services in Malaysia and Singapore “so that public hospitals have the bandwidth to continue prioritising the treatment of infected patients,” managing director and Chief Executive Kevin Loh said in an email.

The country reported 20 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total confirmed infections to 149 in the Southeast Asian nation.

Malaysian authorities are tracking around 5,000 citizens across the country believed to have been potentially exposed to the coronavirus at a religious event in the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

IHH’s testing service in Malaysia, accredited by the health ministry, is available on-demand at its Gleneagles and Pantai hospitals in Kuala Lumpur and southern state of Malacca, the company said.

The hospital operator aims to expand the service to at least three other states on Peninsular Malaysia.

Malaysian health authorities said earlier this week it will work with private companies to introduce a service for people to pay to be tested by sending samples from home.

“We are in further discussions with Malaysia’s ministry of health to provide additional support and will provide updates as soon as they are available,” Loh said.

In Singapore, the testing service is not on-demand but as directed by the island city’s health ministry.

IHH, listed both in Malaysia and Singapore, runs 80 hospitals in 10 countries that include Turkey, India and China.

Reporting by Liz Lee; editing by David Evans

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