TUTONG – The National Isolation Centre (NIC) will increase its bed capacity to 296 following the completed construction of its new $11 million extension building in Tutong.

The new building will be able to accommodate 160 patients in isolation wards and six patients in the intensive care unit, more than doubling the number of beds at the existing NIC.

The new wing was built as concerns of an overstretched healthcare system mounted when the existing NIC reached 80 percent of its bed capacity at one point amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The current centre has 136 beds, including 27 beds fitted for critically ill patients.

A ward at the extension for the National Isolation Centre. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

The Ministry of Development officially handed over the new building to the Ministry of Health on Friday.

Built on a 6,000 square metre site in three weeks, the new extension consists of seven blocks. Five blocks will be used to house patients while the other two blocks are for administration and engineering.

Facilities at the new wing include pharmacy services, treatment rooms, a counselling room, sluice room for biohazards and household waste, and surau.

Health minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar last Saturday said the building will start operations in “a few days” after undergoing clinical cleaning to ensure it is safe and suitable for use.

Security staff walking through the new extension of the National Isolation Centre. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar

The Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Hospital in Tutong has also been designated as an isolation hospital for treating COVID-19 patients alongside NIC,  with all of its services moved to either Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha Hospital or Suri Seri Begawan Hospital in Belait.

In an interview with the media on Monday, staff nurse Siti Norsharihamdinah Hj Awang Besar said the construction of a flu clinic at the Tutong hospital’s Accident and Emergency area will also enhance the hospital’s healthcare capacity. The flu clinic is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

Dr Hj Muhd Syafiq Abdullah, head of consultant clinical management team at the Tutong Isolation Hospital, said the hospital also coordinates and liaises with the health ministry’s command centre on the latest situation apart from treating patients.

“We have teleconferencing every day in the afternoon to hand over updated information such as the status of new cases, recoveries for the press conference,” he said.

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