Safer method for medical frontliners to take swabs for Covid-19 tests

by Nancy Nais and Lian Cheng

KUCHING, April 12: Members of the local business events industry have created a Covid-19 screening pod to enable medical frontliners here to obtain samples from the public for Covid-19 testing more safely and reduce the usage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The initiative is believed to be the first in Sarawak.

The screening pod was installed at the Youth and Sports Complex, Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce today.

It will allow medical staff to examine patients from behind an acrylic plastic panel. After each test, the pod is disinfected and ventilated to minimise the risk of the next person potentially getting exposed to the novel coronavirus which spreads through respiratory droplets.

The idea to equip local frontliners to test patients in such a manner came after the said stakeholders learnt that South Korea use the innovation to great effect. They therefore decided to emulate the idea.

Project initiator Geoffrey Lee said at this critical moment for the country, many parties regardless of background have has come forward with resilience, perseverance and unity to fight Covid-19 together with healthcare frontliners in Sarawak.

“This facility (screening pod) was created based on biosafety cabinets, also known as isolation glove boxes, where laboratory workers perform operations through arm-length rubber sleeves. The same principle and product design inspired South Korea to create a similar product for their situation and has been effective since launching.

He explained that at the Youth and Sports Complex here, consultation would be done at another station and the person who is to have their sample taken will be directed to the screening pod.

“Nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs will be obtained with arm-length rubber gloves built into the panel. The whole process of swabbing and sampling should take no longer than a minute. This is then followed by proper packaging of the swab and disinfection of the patient’s part of the screening pod by another frontliner,” Lee told DayakDaily after the screening pod was installed today.

He disclosed that they obtained the special gloves from Kuala Lumpur.

However, the feedback today was the gloves were too big for Asian hands so they will order smaller size gloves and make the swap as soon as possible.

Workers installing the screening pod for medical frontliners to take samples from the public to be tested for Covid-19.
The screening pod will add an extra layer of protection between medical frontliners and members of the public getting samples taken.

Explaining the screening pod’s specifications, project leader Bong Kui Chew from TEEM Event and Exhibition said the screening pod measures about 1,000mm W x 1,000mm D x 2,100mm H, and is able weather repeated decontamination procedures.

“We used the ‘exhibition’ system, whereby we converted the front panel with acrylic materials so that it is transparent, with two holes so we can attach the gloves. This itself is a (form of) protection between the doctors or medical staff with patients so we can reduce the risk.

“It is a simple build for rapid setup and deployment to screening facilities, at the same time giving an optimal space for efficient swabbing and decontamination,” Bong explained.

There is also a ventilator with a less than 50W motor power to provide positive pressure from inside the screening pod.

The aim of this screening pod is to provide positive pressure within the healthcare workers’ side of the booth, to confer additional safety and also to reduce the usage of PPE which has become a critical commodity worldwide.

The group is planning to build more screening pods as soon as possible. — DayakDaily