(From left) Fatimah, Sim, Uggah, and Jaul at the press conference. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

CORONAVIRUS WATCH

KUCHING: The Sarawak government is expediting the purchase of rapid blood test kits and thermal scans in light of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who is also State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN) chairman said that the test kits would enable preliminary tests to be conducted locally thus shortening the time taken to detect the virus.

“Presently, if we have any incidences in Sarawak, the sample would be sent to the Institute of Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur,” he said during a press conference after chairing a JPBN meeting at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here yesterday.

According to him, results could take about 36 to 48 hours to be available, but if Sarawak has its own test kits this could potentially be shortened to 12 to 24 hours.

He said the rapid blood test kits would be stationed at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH). “Samples from Sibu, Miri, Bintulu, and so on could be sent to Kuching.”

(From left) Fatimah, Sim, Uggah, and Jaul at the press conference. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

Uggah said that they would look into obtaining a lab, but at the moment the emphasis was on obtaining the rapid blood test kits.

He said they were also in discussion with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) to consider if its facilities could be utilised for the tests.

Touching on thermal scans, he said that Bintulu and Sibu airports did not have such equipment.

“Thus, the state government has decided to buy two thermal scans which are expected to be available in one or two weeks,” he said.

He said that staff members were already being sent to Kuching for training so that the thermal scans can be used upon delivery. “That means all our main airports –Miri, Sibu, Bintulu and Kuching – will have thermal scans.”

Meanwhile, Uggah said that safe declaration forms would be introduced. These would be distributed on airlines and filled by all passengers entering Sarawak.

“This form will be checked and presented to immigration officers at the entry points,” he explained.

He said these forms would also be implemented at all entry points, including the ferry from Labuan, flights from Kota Kinabalu to Mulu, as well as those on land.

“The cooperation of everyone is essential. We have had a number of crises in the past such as the rabies outbreak, but we could overcome it because we worked together,” he emphasised.

Also present were Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian; Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah; State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion; Deputy State Secretary Datuk Ik Pahon Joyik; State Security and Enforcement Unit director Datuk Dr Chai Khin Chung; State Deputy Police Commissioner Datuk Dev Kumar and State Health Director Dr Chin Zin Hing.