Sabah health director denies news report claiming frontliners overworked

Medical officers along with five doctors from Kelantan, Terengganu, Putrajaya, Johor, Melaka and Negri Sembilan arriving at Terminal 2 of Kota Kinabalu International Airport for the Covid-19 Assistance Mission in Sabah, October 27, 2020. — Bernama pic
Medical officers along with five doctors from Kelantan, Terengganu, Putrajaya, Johor, Melaka and Negri Sembilan arriving at Terminal 2 of Kota Kinabalu International Airport for the Covid-19 Assistance Mission in Sabah, October 27, 2020. — Bernama pic

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 30 ― Sabah Health director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi has denied claims that medical frontliners and the state’s healthcare system were on the brink of collapse.

Referring to a news report, Dr Rundi said there were inaccuracies which included claims that junior staff was placed in Intensive Care Units (ICUs), medical nurses and other staff sent from West Malaysia had to undergo a two-week quarantine before allowed to work and that there are lack of beds to treat Covid-19 patients in the state capital.

“We have expanded the capacity at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and Likas Hospital to take more patients. QEH expanded its ICU from 16 beds to 40 beds and another 24 in its Medical High Dependency Ward which was converted into an additional ICU.

“To ease the pressure on the hospitals, six quarantine and treatment centres have been opened for low-risk patients. As of October 29, there are 76 empty beds at QEH and 71 empty beds at the quarantine and treatment centres,” she said.

She said QEH has a capacity of 456 beds while the Likas Hospital has a capacity of 117 beds. The quarantine centres has some 673 beds, including a small number specifically for children.

There are currently some 3,113 active Covid-19 cases in the state capital alone, while the total number of beds currently is 1,246. The Kepayan prison cluster has a total of 1,652 Covid cases.

It is unclear where the remaining cases are being treated as there has been no data given.

Dr Rundi denied that there was a shortage, and said the state was working to convert more buildings into low-risk treatment centres.

She also denied a news report that a patient was sent home from QEH despite having Covid 19 due to lack of space and that the patient later died from the infection.

“We are investigating the incident and the cause of death in the case at the Putatan district health office,” she said.

Dr Rundi also clarified that nurses sent to Sabah were not required to undergo quarantine for two weeks but were instead made to take the RT-PCR test before they start work.

She also said that there were 31 trained nurses for post-basic intensive care working in the ICU.

“We have told all heads of department to remind their staff to tell them or counselors provided if they are having problems being overburdened at work.

“We have set up a Mental Health Psychosocial Support team in every district in Sabah to provide mental and emotional support to those affected by Covid-19, including medical workers on the field and in hospitals,” she said.

Sabah recorded 352 new cases yesterday, a drop of 194 from the day before but continues to record the most cases in the country by far. The state has 3,848 active cases now following a total of 14,053 total cumulative cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Statewide, 72 people are being treated in ICUs while 730 in hospitals and 3118 in the low-risk quarantine and treatment centres.

The state capital here has the most number of active cases at 3,113, followed by Tawau with 1,260.

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