Agonising Wait for COVID-19 Swab Test Result

By Jailani Hasan

LABUAN: The six days seemed like six weeks. The wait for the result of the COVID-19 swab test seemed to be more “painful” than the test itself.

However, when the health authorities called up last night to inform that the test showed up negative, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I returned to Labuan on Sept 28 to resume duties as the correspondent for Bernama on the duty-free island after being assigned to assist the Kota Kinabalu bureau of the Malaysian National News Agency during the 16th Sabah state election.

Jailani Hasan

I had taken along my wife and 32-month-old son with me during the time I was in Kota Kinabalu, from Sept 24 to 27. Polling for the election was on Sept 26.

The rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state did not offer any comforting thought as we journalists, including several who had come from Kuala Lumpur, went about our duty to cover the campaign, polling and results.

One of my assignments on the event of Polling Day was to cover an event of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) in Kg Ketiau, Putatan, that was officiated by Perikatan National (PN) Information chief Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

In the morning of Polling Day, I was assigned to be at SK Pekan Tambunan where Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan cast his ballot. Jeffrey is now a Sabah deputy chief minister.

In the evening, I was at the Sabah Umno headquarters where several state and federal political Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders were following the results of the election as they trickled in.

I found out later, much to my delight, that a question I posed to Sabah BN chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin had gone viral on social media.

I had asked him whether he foresees problems in power sharing between PN and BN, and Bung Moktar replied: “Masalah akan timbul apabila kita timbulkan masalah. Kalau tidak, tidak ada masalah.” (Problems will arise when we create the problems. Otherwise, there will be no problems).

Bung Moktar is now a deputy chief minister. Sabah PN chief Datuk Hajiji Noor is the new Sabah chief minister.

After the Sabah Umno assignment, I went to Magellan Sutera Resort where PN leaders had gathered to follow the results.

Besides the visits closer to and on polling day, I had also gone from Labuan to Sabah on Nomination Day on Sept 12, to the state constituencies of Bongawan, Membakut, Pantai Manis, Kawang and Limbahau to gather information for an analysis report.

At all these venues, I had taken the precaution of wearing a face mask and sanitising my hands now and then.

My wife used to remind me daily – never take off the mask when talking to people … use the sanitiser each time you finish covering an event.

She will put a bottle of sanitiser and several face masks in my laptop bag before I go out for the day.

When I am back, she will ask me to take a shower immediately and place all soiled clothes in a plastic bag ready for the laundry.

It is a fallacy to think that journalists are excused from taking the COVID-19 swab tests and spared from the 14-day quarantine.

On our return to Labuan on Sept 28, my wife and I and our son were subjected to a swab test and had to wear a wristband which was removed today at the Labuan Health Department after the results came out negative.

I will go through the 14-day home quarantine and take another swab test on the 13th day, just to be sure and as required by Bernama.