Covid-19: Mobile BSL-3 molecular labs to be sent to hospitals in Kapit, Limbang, Miri and Kuching

Uggah (middle), Dr Sim (fourth right), Dr Chin (third right) and other staff taking a group photo with the BSL-3 molecular lab container.

By Ling Hui

KUCHING, Feb 8: Government hospitals in Kapit, Limbang, Miri and Kuching will receive molecular laboratories in containers to boost their Covid-19 testing capacity.

State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) advisor Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian said the Sarawak government and the federal government are each contributing two container laboratories to the hospitals across the state.

The state government would be funding the laboratories marked for Kapit and Limbang hospitals while the Malaysian government would be sending the same to Miri Hospital and Sarawak General Hospital (SGH).

The mobile laboratory is rated Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) where researchers can handle classified Level 3 pathogen organisms in the best secure conditions.

Yesterday at the Sarawak Heart Centre, one mobile laboratory was deployed to Kapit Hospital during a send-off officiated at by SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

Dr Sim, who is also the Minister of Local Government and Housing added that this idea of supplying the BSL-3 molecular labs came after a similar donation by a group of private companies last year.

“This was followed by the success of BSL-3 Molecular Lab (container) donated by a consortium of private companies last year at Sarawak Heart Centre that enabled us to perform up to 800 PCR (polymerase) tests per day.

“In view of the recent surge in Covid-19 (cases), (it is) very (good) to have more BSL labs throughout Sarawak,” he said in a Facebook post yesterday (Feb 7).

Dr Sim (second right) and Uggah (second left) in a discussion with others before the BSL molecular lab was sent off to Kapit Hospital yesterday (Feb 8, 2021).

For other hospitals such as those in Bintulu and Sibu, he said laboratory facility upgrades would be carried out the traditional way.

With all these upgrades, he added, the hospitals would be able to perform an additional more than 1,500 PCR tests in a day from the current capacity of over 6,000 tests per year.

“When Covid-19 started in March, 2019, only SGH and Unimas (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak) can perform PCR tests with capacity of over 1,500 per day.

“Together with Sarawak Health Department and other hospitals, we must continue to look for newer and faster technology for PCR testing,” said Dr Sim.

Sarawak health director Dr Chin Zin Hing was among those present at the sending-off ceremony at Sarawak Heart Centre yesterday. — DayakDaily