Sarawak to buy rapid blood test kits, thermal scans

Strict checks are being conducted on visitors to Sarawak. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has decided to purchase rapid blood test kits following the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas said the rapid blood test kits could help to reduce detection time of patients suspected of being infected with the virus.

He said currently samples had to be sent to Kuala Lumpur and it would take about 36 to 48 hours before results were out.

However, with the kit, he said the time could be shortened to between 12 and 24 hours.

“With this kit, we will also be able to perform preliminary tests (on those who are suspected to be infected with the virus). We are also discussing with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) in terms of facilities.

“The kit is expected to be available within a week,” he told a press conference here today.

Uggah, who is also the chairman of the Sarawak disaster management committee (JPBN), said the state government would also purchase two thermal scans to be placed at the Sibu and Bintulu airports.

The thermal scans are expected to be available within two weeks.

“We have also sent several people to Kuching to train them to operate these thermal scans,” he added.

Besides that, Uggah said safe declaration forms would also be distributed to airlines for passengers to fill.

He said eight Wuhan coronavirus cases were suspected in Sarawak earlier — five in Kuching as well as one each in Sibu, Miri and Bintulu.

However, six of these cases had tested negative while the other two cases in Miri and Kuching are still pending laboratory results.

Uggah also urged the people not to spread false news on social media in regard to the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus in Sarawak.

“All information on the Wuhan coronavirus will be announced officially by the state disaster management committee,” he said.

Police would take stern action against those found spreading false news about the spread of the virus and creating public fear, he said.

The spread of false news on the virus outbreak is an offence under Section 505 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the MCMC Act. Offenders can be jailed up to two years and fined up to RM100,000.