Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Peter Roberts, turns the first sod on the future Covid-19 laboratory site with then-Vice-Minister for Health, Elia dos Reis Amaral on March 26 (Image/DFAT)

DILI, 26 March 2020 (TATOLI)- Work has begun on a laboratory extension next to the National Hospital in Dili that will be capable of testing patients for Covid-19.

The new Pathology and Microbiology facility, to be built at the National Health Laboratory (NHL), will cost USD $350,000 to construct.

Currently, tests conducted at the NHL must be send to Darwin, Australia for verification. The Director-General of the NHL, Endang Soares, said it was important to have the capability within Timor-Leste.

“Today we begin construction for the pathology and microbiology laboratory to test for possible COVID-19 cases [on] our own,” Ms Soares said yesterday.

Construction firm RMS has been appointed to oversee the project, which is due for completion in June.

WHO Timor-Leste representative, Rajesh Pandav, with HNGV laboratory staff (Image/WHO)

The World Health Organisation has supplied a PCR ‘hood’ to the national laboratory, which is critical in ensuring samples are not contaminated.

Australia’s Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Peter Roberts, said his government had also offered technical and capacity-building support.

“We are ready to work with the Ministry of Health, the WHO and other donors to help Timor-Leste respond to Covid-19,” he said.

Funding for the project has been provided by Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin; the Australian Government; and the UK Government.

Menzies will also provide training for laboratory personnel specialising in microbiology and other areas. A spokesman for the organisation said he expects the samples will continue to be sent to the Royal Darwin Hospital for verification for another two weeks.

After that time, the NHL will send the swabs instead to a WHO reference lab, which is a worldwide standard practice.

Ami hakarak hato’o ami nia obrigadu wain ba ekipa funsionáriu sira iha Royal Darwin Hospital ne’ebé mak hala’o serbisu…

Dikirim oleh Australia in Timor-Leste pada Senin, 23 Maret 2020

Journalist: Felicidade Ximenes

Editors: Robert Baird; Agapito dos Santos

Translation: Nelia Borges

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