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Jakarta Post

Govt launches mobile laboratory to increase COVID-19 testing capacity

  • Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, June 17, 2020   /   02:21 pm
Govt launches mobile laboratory to increase COVID-19 testing capacity Research and Technology Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro (left) and Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) head Hammam Riza (second left) examine a mobile biosafety level-2 laboratory in Jakarta on June 16. (Courtesy of/BPPT)

The Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) and the national COVID-19 task force on research and technological innovation (TFRIC-19) have launched a mobile swab testing laboratory in an effort to increase the country’s testing capacity.

The mobile biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) laboratory, which was built inside a repurposed 20-foot container, was first used for swab testing in Ridwan Meuraksa hospital in East Jakarta on Tuesday. The laboratory is capable of testing 120 samples in 12 hours.

“The laboratory is equipped with two swab chambers, so we hope it can help increase testing in Jakarta,” BPTT head Hammam Riza said in a statement on Tuesday

The laboratory has fulfilled the BSL-2 standard in part because of its biosafety cabinet, where scientists can process swab samples safely, its autoclave disinfecting machine and its polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine. It is also equipped with an interlock system to maintain negative air pressure inside the laboratory.

Indonesian researchers designed the lab in 10 days. It took 19 days to build with partnering manufacturers.

Read also: COVID-19 leaves lab workers grappling with unprecedented testing scale

The laboratory has been integrated with the government-issued PeduliLindungi surveillance mobile application, where users can register for testing. Test results will be reported through an integrated application, where data verified by medical workers will be sent to the national reporting system.

Research and Technology Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro hoped the mobile laboratory would help increase testing capabilities in regions outside of Jakarta and other major cities. Medical workers outside of provincial capitals have had to send samples to laboratories located in those capitals. This adds to the testing time.

“There are many COVID-19 epicenters located far from their provincial capital,” Bambang said.

National COVID-19 task force chief Doni Monardo said he hoped the BPPT would continue developing technologies to address the outbreak. “The task force continues to provide support for the agency, including researchers, to develop further advancements,” he said.