Health Ministry enhances rRT-PCR testing capacity in Sabah due to rising Covid-19 cases

PETALING JAYA: As Sabah grapples with a rising number of Covid-19 cases, the real-time Reverse-Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) testing capacity in the state has been enhanced to 2,500 tests daily across three labs.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that in the event that rRT-PCR tests exceeded 2,500 in a day in Sabah, the remainder would be sent to Peninsular Malaysia.

“As for any additional samples, the remaining tests would be sent to the Institute for Medical Research using the services of the Malaysian Air Force and private courier,” he said in a press statement on Wednesday (Sept 23).

In Sabah, the Kota Kinabalu public health lab can conduct 2,000 rRT-PCR tests daily, Hospital Queen Elizabeth can carry out 400 tests, while Universiti Malaysia Sabah can test 100 samples daily.

Compared to March, the three labs in total only had the capacity to carry out 400 rRT-PCR tests daily, said Dr Noor Hisham.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the Ministry is also using antigen rapid test kits (RTK-Ag) to screen for Covid-19 in large volumes quickly.

“Up until now, there are 23 hospital labs and 26 clinical labs under the Health Ministry carrying out RTK-Ag tests in Sabah. Due to the rising number of cases in Sabah, the Health Ministry has enhanced the capacity of laboratories that can carry out rRT-PCR tests,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the ministry is also setting up a molecular lab at Hospital Tawau as a long-term measure.

“Besides that, the ministry is also waiting for the delivery of the Genexpert Covid-19 machine from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be used by Hospital Tawau, Hospital Sandakan and Hospital Lahad Datu.

“This test can detect the virus Sars-Cov-2 (Covid-19). The Genexpert machine can conduct 40 tests daily,” he added.

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