The Molecular Laboratory at the Tawau District Health Office is now up and running and capable of processing up to 300 COVID-19 screening test samples in a day.
The district’s health officer said test results could now be obtained within four days.Dr G Navindran.
"With this laboratory, the backlog of samples would not be so high, and this can resolve the problem of the delay in processing the test samples," he told reporters after receiving a donation of 3,000 units of personal protective equipment from Pertubuhan Himpunan Lepasan Institusi Pendidikan Malaysia (HALUAN) here today.
Dr Navindran said, however, the laboratory was currently only processing 100 test samples a day due to a shortage of staff.
"Currently, there are seven staff in the laboratory, we also have staff on loan from Sandakan, Kinabatangan and Kota Kinabalu. If there are additional staff we can process more samples," he said.
He said samples would be sent to external laboratories including in Kota Kinabalu for processing if there were more than 1,000 screening tests collected a day.
Meanwhile, Dr Navindran said the response to the targeted COVID-19 screenings conducted by his team in the village areas was not very encouraging.
"For example, there are areas where only 15 residents turn up for the screening since health workers cannot force them," he said.
However, he said his team would not give up on carrying out the targeted screening programmes which currently cover urban areas, Balung and Kalabakan.
He said the public, including non-citizens who underwent the free screening under the programme would not have to undergo quarantine, while the residents of Tawau and Kalabakan were reminded not to take things lightly following the decline in the number of cases in the districts. - Bernama