Malaysia’s healthcare system at high risk of paralysis, Dr Noor Hisham warns as Covid-19 cases exceed hospital capacity in KL, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Labuan

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on January 19, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on January 19, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — Hospitals in the national capital, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Labuan have exceeded their maximum limits in treating Covid-19 patients, data from the Health Ministry released today show.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said those four states showed an average of more than 37 daily Covid-19 cases per 100,000 and an average 2.6 per cent increase for the past week.

“The new daily cases reported showed no signs of reduction and even cases increased by an average of 2.6 per cent over the past seven days.

“If this situation persists, the health system in those states will be paralysed and in turn a similar situation for the whole country is likely to occur,” he said in a statement this evening.

Citing official data, he said the daily national average Covid-19 cases of 6,539 is far from the 4,000-daily threshold target for the National Recovery Plan.

“The threshold value of 4,000 new cases daily is set based on the hospital’s capacity to deal with unforeseen situations, the rate of case admission to the ward and the current case discharge rate.

“The states that recorded the number of new cases exceeding the value of 12.2 cases per 100,000 population were Labuan, Negri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Melaka, Putrajaya, Sarawak and Pahang,” he added.

Dr Noor Hisham also said that the trend of admission of Covid-19 cases to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is still at a high level.

The data also showed that no significant decrease in cases since the 23rd Epidemiology Week — from June 6 to June 12 — until now.

The total ICU bed occupancy rate still exceeds 90 per cent, while frontline medical and health workers suffered from “burnout” as they had to struggle to deal with so many Covid-19 cases for an extended period of time.

Dr Noor Hisham said that to overcome this critical situation, the Health Ministry has converted some hospitals in the Klang Valley into full Covid-19 hospitals.

Among them are Hospital Ampang, Sungai Buloh Hospital and the Children’s Specialist Hospital of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

He said the MOH has increased the bed capacity of Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL), Selayang Hospital and Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang Hospital (HTAR) to be used as treatment centres for Category 4 and 5 patients.

Subsequently, the treatment of non-Covid-19 patients has been outsourced to private hospitals, especially those around HKL and HTAR areas.

Dr Noor Hisham also said that MOH is considering changing the status of Hospital Shah Alam for treating Covid-19 cases and repurpose beds in its regular wards for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

He said that the ministry also will increase the capacity of beds in Covid-19 Quarantine and Treatment Centres that are used to treat lower risk patients.

Other public health facilities being considered for to treat Covid-19 patients are Hospital Pengajar Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Hospital Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM).

Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry is also collaborating with 112 private hospitals in the Klang Valley to increase Covid-19 beds.

He added that the ministry will also mobilise more health workers from states that have eased up on lockdown restrictions to states that are Covid-19 critical states and step up vaccination activities.

Those in ICU today totalled 948 patients, a new daily record. The ministry also recorded 91 deaths from Covid-19 nationwide today, raising the cumulative fatality count to 5,768 since the pandemic spread in Malaysia last year.

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