The Minister of Health YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham (4L) with MoH officials during the opening ceremony this morning. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

The Molecular Diagnostic Unit For Respiratory Viruses, a new virology laboratory dedicated for the analysis of COVID-19 tests has completed construction and is slated to begin operations on April 1.

Present to officiate its opening this morning at Jalan Sumbiling in the capital, was the Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar.

The construction of the new laboratory was announced by the minister on March 21 during a press conference, as an extension of the National Virology Reference Laboratory of the ministry’s Department of Laboratory Services.

Head of the National Virology Reference Laboratory, Dr Zainun Zaini. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

According to a statement by MoH, all molecular tests of COVID-19 will be transferred to the new laboratory to increase the ministry’s capacity in testing for new COVID-19 cases.

In an interview with the media, Head of the National Virology Reference Laboratory, Dr Zainun Zaini said that an overall of 26 staff will be mobilised to the new laboratory, working as a team of seven per shift on a rotational basis.

She added that before any test analysis can be done in the new unit, staff will be trained for two days on the different areas of the laboratory which include a sample reception area, a sample processing lab, a reagent preparation lab and an amplification lab.

One of the staff demonstrating how to process a sample. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

“Currently, our maximum capacity is at about 240 samples in a day, and this is done through manual procedures. With this new unit, our capacity will surely increase as the new laboratory allows for some procedures to be conducted through semi-automated (machines),” she said.

She added that in the future, the new unit will be used to analyse other respiratory viruses such as influenza, but for now it will cater solely to the analysis of the coronavirus.

(L-R) Health Minister YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham receiving the building’s key from Director of LSL, Dato Paduka Hj Ahmad Kadi. Image: Fazizul Haqimie
(L-R) Acting Director of the Laboratory Services Department. Dr Hjh Surita receiving the building’s key from the Health Minister YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

The event saw the handover of the building key by Dato Paduka Hj Ahmad Kadi, Director of LSL to YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham who proceeded to hand it over to Dr Hjh Surita Hj Mohd Taib, the Acting Director of the Laboratory Services Department.

During the event, the health minister was also given a tour of the facilities to further examine the functions of the new laboratory.

(L-R) Head of the National Virology Reference Laboratory, Dr Zainun giving the Health Minister YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham a tour of the facilities. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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