KUCHING: The construction of a research centre for infectious diseases will start this year as part of Sarawak's policy to handle future pandemics.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state government had approved a site for the project near the Sarawak Heart Centre in Kota Samarahan, with a target of three years for completion.
"The state government decided last year to set up a research centre for infectious diseases.
"We have allocated RM200mil to develop the centre so that we can do research on diseases.
"We do not know what other diseases may emerge but we must have a professional, credible research institution that will interact with international bodies so that we can predict (future pandemics)," he said after visiting a vaccination centre at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak's (Unimas) Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Hall in Kota Samarahan on Wednesday (June 16).
Abang Johari said the infectious diseases centre would be developed under the Sarawak Research and Development Council with assistance from local experts and international institutions.
He said the state had already established links with various international bodies but declined to name them until formal agreements have been made.
"As far as the state government is concerned, we have resources in biodiversity.
"What we need is expertise. So, we will work with research institutions, including Unimas," he said.
On another matter, Abang Johari said Sarawak aimed to increase its Covid-19 vaccination capacity to 50,000 people a day in order to complete the immunisation programme by August.
"As of June 14, we've achieved 45,291 vaccinations.
"If we increase the number of vaccination centres and be more aggressive, we want to reach 50,000 a day," he said.
Abang Johari said more vaccine supplies were scheduled to arrive in the state this week.
He said 110,380 doses would arrive in Miri on Thursday (June 17) and another 350,000 doses in Kuching on Friday (June 18).
On the Unimas vaccination centre, which started on Monday (June 14), Abang Johari said it would contribute towards speeding up the state's immunisation programme.
He said the centre vaccinated 1,000 people in the first two days, with the capacity to be increased to 3,000 people on Thurday (June 17) and 5,000 on Friday (June 18).
"This will increase the capacity for the public to get vaccinated, especially those living in Samarahan," he said.