LABUAN: All the 2,430 students who have arrived here from elsewhere in the country to attend the Labuan Matriculation College have tested negative for COVID-19, college director Mohd Idris Omar said today.

The students, who make up most of the 2,860 new intake and senior students of the college, began arriving from Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia since Aug 2, he told Bernama.

The college had postponed the start of the semester in June to August in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The remaining students are expected to come in batches up to Aug 17.

Mohd Idris said the students had arrived by air and ferry and had been subjected to the COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at the Labuan Airport and the Labuan International Ferry Terminal and Labuan Ro-Ro Ferry Terminal.

He said at least 93 new students and several senior students are scheduled to arrive from Kuching between Aug 15 and 17, soon after the expiry of the Sarawak inter-zone travel restriction order on Aug 14.

“The free COVID-19 tests are compulsory as far we are concerned to ensure that the students, who are from various districts and rural areas in Sabah and Sarawak and a small number from the peninsula are free from COVID-19 before commencing their studies at the college.

“The semester was supposed to commence in June but due to movement restrictions, it has been rescheduled to August,” he said.

The federal government allowed the Sarawak government to impose inter-zone movement restriction from August 1 to 14 to curb the spread of COVID-19 following an increase in the number of positive cases recently.

Students arriving at the Labuan Ro-Ro Ferry Terminal said they had expected to be subjected to the  COVID-19 test and welcomed it as they felt safe.

“Of course, we felt the discomfort when an instrument went into the end of the nose and throat but, as a safety measure, we students must undergo the test,” said a student who identified himself as Roland Raymond of Sandakan, Sabah.

The Labuan Health Department has set up a temporary COVID-19 counter at the Labuan Marine Department compound (opposite the ferry terminal) to conduct the swab test on incoming ferry passengers.