KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told Parliament’s Lower House today that the National Rapid Response Task Force he helped set up is meant to address manpower shortages for Covid-19 treatment.
Khairy was responding to a question by Kulai Member of Parliament Teo Nie Ching (DAP) who raised concerns about the growing number of health frontline workers suffering from burnout as the pandemic has dragged on for nearly two years.
“Surely the increase in beds and modular intensive care units require additional manpower, which is why I had ordered the setting up of the National Rapid Response task force that can be deployed to states that are facing a surge in cases and (hospitalisation) capacity,” he said.
Penang was among states where the task force has been deployed, Khairy said, as its public hospitals have been swamped by the climbing figures of Covid-19 patients, causing delays to treatment of other chronic illnesses.
Khairy was then asked by Kapar MP Datuk Abdullah Sani (PKR) if the ministry plans to build “permanent” Covid-19 specialist hospitals.
The minister replied that all existing hospitals designated to solely treat Covid-19 will remain so until further notice, likely when there are signs that the number of daily cases and utilisation rate stabilises.
“We would keep the hospitals designated for Covid-19 treatment, especially state hospitals until we can deal with the pandemic more effectively,” he said.
“I can’t say for how long because we hope when there is a reduction in admissions there will be more hybrid hospitals where some parts of the wards that were taken over to treat Covid-19 can resume for normal treatment,” the minister added.
Malaysia’s daily Covid-19 cases rose to 15,759 cases yesterday, with Sarawak remaining the state with the most new infections at 3,732 cases.
Johor was second with 1,959 cases, followed by Selangor (1,934), Penang (1,417), Kelantan (1,338), Sabah (1,291), Perak (1,184), Kedah (786) and Pahang (707). The Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, meanwhile, reported 359 cases in the same 24-hour period.