MIRI: A molecular laboratory using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rT-PCR) method to detect Covid-19 will be set up at Limbang Hospital to overcome the lengthy period and high cost of sending samples for testing in Miri.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, who disclosed this after a briefing at Limbang Hospital on Saturday, said this was a necessary step for Limbang Division to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“We want Covid-19 tests to be able to be carried out in Limbang Hospital instead of Miri, and this lab can cater for the demand in Lawas and Limbang districts,” he said when met later at Kampung Limpaku Pinang, Limbang.
Though no further details on the setting-up of the lab were provided, it was understood that the plans are in the process of being finalised.
Currently, all Covid-19 test samples are sent to Miri by land, with the results taking between three and five days to come back.
Awang Tengah said while having the lab would drastically reduce the waiting period for test results to be known, the facility once ready would require more specialists to add to the current manpower at Limbang Hospital.
Limbang and Lawas districts are physically separated from Miri by Brunei which imposes strict entry restrictions to visitors.
Visitors to the sultanate are required to produce their negative Covid-19 test results before being allowed to enter for business or pass through.
The Sarawak government has announced that it would bear the cost for the Covid-19 swab tests on all Sarawakians travelling past Brunei’s borders via land, including those in the civil service, private sector and transporters of essential goods.
Accompanying Awang Tengah during his earlier visit to Limbang Hospital were Deputy Transport Minister Hasbi Habibollah, Assistant Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, and Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang.