KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — The growing number of Covid-19 patients in Malaysia who have to be put in intensive care units (ICUs) is due to reasons such as an increased number of younger patients having severe symptoms, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.

Dr Noor Hisham said studies would be undertaken to check the variant of Covid-19 that such younger patients were infected with.

“In terms of usage of ICUs, yes there is increased usage of ICUs. As I mentioned earlier, apart from the elderly, those who have co-morbidities in ICUs, the younger population is also using ICUs and the severity of cases is much higher and (there’s) resistance to treatment like steroids, etc.

“So in such cases, we will do the genomic study to prove whether there is a variant infection among them,” he said in his press conference that was broadcast live this evening.

Having also earlier said that there is an increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia that are sporadic or which are of unknown sources as they are not part of clusters, Dr Noor Hisham said that this increase of infections among the community has also led to more patients having to be placed in ICUs and to receive respiratory support.

“Then because the community infection is high, that’s also one reason those vulnerable population — elderly, as well as with co-morbidities — get infected, whether from children coming home, bringing the infection to the elderly.

“And this is why once they are infected, we have to bring them to the hospital and ventilate them. There are multi-factorial reasons but these are the few reasons we can think of,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Noor Hisham showed a chart of the rate of incidence of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia per 100,000 persons according to the age group for the period of January 1, 2021, to May 7, 2021.

“We find that the infection is very high among those aged 20 to 29, and aged 30 to 39. These may be the active age or working age.

“And now with new variants, we are informed by our experts in Hospital Sungai Buloh, infections among those who are young is increasing and also the symptoms are getting worse, and many are admitted into the hospital and also ICUs, and also not responding to the treatment that we use such as steroids, the response is less,” he said.

In the chart, a total of 319,415 Covid-19 cases were recorded in Malaysia from January 1, 2021 to May 7, 2021, with those in the 20 to 29 age group contributing 86,128 cases, while those in the 30 to 39 age group contributed 88,590 cases.

As for the rate of incidence of Covid-19 per 100,000 persons during the same period of slightly over four months, it was highest among the 20 to 29 age group at 1,531 persons per 100,000 persons, followed by the 30 to 39 age group (1,452), the 40 to 49 age group (969), the 50 to 59 age group (765), the 60 to 69 age group (639), the 10 to 19 age group (579), 70 to 79 age group (502), the 80 to 89 age group (468), and the 0 to 9 age group (403).

This is in comparison to the overall rate of incidence for Malaysia at 933 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 persons.