Bringing tests to the masses

Rokiah Mahmud

The Mobile Swab Team under the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre (PHEOC) of the Ministry of Health (MoH) functions to assist individuals unable to make it to the static swab test centre on the grounds of limited mobility, disabilities and other difficulties.

Senior Medical Officer Grade I (Dental) cum Mobile Swab Team Coordinator Dr Hajah Nurul Sa’idah binti Haji Ishak said this includes bed-ridden patients and those who are wheelchair-bound, individuals who are hard to transport in normal vehicles, and positive cases being transferred to isolation centres.

She said the main clients are those directed to undergo swabbing under the Infectious Diseases Act, including close contacts of positive cases, and positive cases under home isolation.

The team conducted 17,538 COVID-19 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests from August to October this year, and 14,618 antigen rapid test (ART) test between the same months.

Locations visited include private residences, longhouses in remote areas, detention centres, dormitories and staff quarters.

The Mobile Swab Team functions to assist individuals unable to make it to the Static Swab Test Centre due to limited mobility, disabilities and other difficulties. Photo shows health workers surpervising the public in the use of antigen rapid test (ART) kit at the Indoor Stadium, Berakas.
ABOVE & BELOW: Health workers prepare the test tubes for the COVID-19 swab test; the Mobile Swab Team gears up before starting the day. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR

ABOVE & BELOW: Senior Medical Officer Grade I (Dental) cum Mobile Swab Team Coordinator Dr Hajah Nurul Sa’idah binti Haji Ishak speaks to the Bulletin; and a child is swabbed for COVID-19

The team is also involved in mass swabbing at the Indoor Stadium National Vaccination Centre and during Mobile COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Services to remote areas.

The Mobile Swab Team was established following the first COVID-19 outbreak last year, with the creation of four units. It has since grown to 23 units, in view of the increase in swab testing capacity.

MoH officials; volunteers from government departments – including the Narcotics Control Bureau, Radio Television Brunei and Ministry of Religious Affairs; and youth make up the units.

The 95-member team is stationed at the Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) Male Hostel and Berakas Health Centre in Lambak Kanan.

“Alhamdulillah, the team is able to attend to the high demand of swab tests, being able to swab 800 individuals per day,” Dr Hajah Nurul Sa’idah said.