KOTA KINABALU, Oct 22 — With Sabah’s hospital beds now 99.5 per cent full, the state government is forced to decide who to admit into its medical facilities for Covid-19 treatment and who should self-isolate.

The state government’s Covid-19 spokesman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun today said that right now, priority for hospitalisation is given to high-risk patients and those deemed to have a higher chance of infecting others unless warded.

“If the symptoms are manageable, the patients will be advised to stay at home, and treatment will be done at home in order to save them from going to a quarantine or treatment centre,” he said in his daily briefing aired over the internet.

“The idea is to ensure they will not infect others. This works well in cases where two people who live together and are both infected, they can quarantine themselves. Then the hospital will provide arrangements to be treated at home if the case is considered to still be in its early stages,” he added.

Masidi said hospitals in the state are doing their best and are conducting screenings to determine the severity of the patient’s symptoms to decide who to admit and who should be treated at home.

Out of the 5,651 beds in hospitals and Covid-19 quarantine and treatment centres available in Sabah, 5,624 or 99.5 per cent have been filled in the 23 low risk treatment and quarantine centres.

Sources told Malay Mail that up to 100 patients have been put on the quarantine centres wait list, especially in districts with a high number of patients.

Some patients who exhibit little to no symptoms have been told to self-isolate at home for up to 10 days before they are called in to the treatment centres.

Earlier, Masidi said the cumulative number of cases in Sabah now is 9,868 with 5,624 active cases.

It is not known how many Covid-19 positive patients are waiting to be admitted into the treatment centres.

Sabah saw an increase of 578 cases today, with four new deaths. Kota Kinabalu, where the Kepayan prison cluster is located, accounted for a majority of that, with 233 cases.

Sandakan has 81 new cases, followed by Tawau with 65, Tuaran with 43, Semporna with 35, Penampang with 31, Papar with 24, Putatan with 17, Lahad Datu with 15, Kinabatangan with 10, Kudat with eight, Kunak with four, Ranau with three, Keningau with two and Kota Belud, Pitas and Beaufort with one each.

The state is expecting to see a surge in cases, particularly from the Kepayan prison cluster, which saw 156 new cases today, of which 145 were from inmates.

It was announced two days ago that Makeshift Treatment Centres (MTC) will be set up at the Kepayan Prison to support the Covid-19 medical facility in the prison.

Defence Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the MTC is needed as the number of Covid-19 cases in the prison is expected to increase and it will serve as a quarantine and treatment centre for inmates who test positive.

There are 2,700 inmates at the centre, and preliminary tests indicate 60 per cent of tests came back positive.

There is also currently a backlog of some 6,653 tests which have yet to return.

“Once we clear the backlog, we will have a better idea of the actual number of Covid-19 cases in the state,” said Masidi.