KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has made a significant shift in its Covid-19 case management protocol amid a shortage of hospital beds, telling asymptomatic people to self-isolate at home after they test positive for the coronavirus.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told Malay Mail that this was because of a very high number of new Covid-19 cases and logistical problems in picking up infected people and sending them to hospitals.
“This happened in Sabah too. We are talking about more than 1,000 cases a day. This is because of increased testing among foreign workers, and as expected more cases being diagnosed,” Dr Noor Hisham was quoted saying.
“Foreign workers have no place to be isolated in…we have thousands here. We are increasing the number of beds to 10,000,” he added, likely referring to the MAEPS 2.0 low-risk Covid-19 quarantine and treatment centre (PKRC) in Serdang, Selangor.
MOH tweeted today, quoting Health deputy director-general (medical) Dr Rohaizat Yon as saying that the MAEPS facility currently has 6,132 beds, and that capacity may be increased to 10,000 beds if necessary.
Dr Noor Hisham’s comments were in response to a question by Malay Mail about a business owner’s complaint about delayed Covid-19 test results from Sungai Buloh Hospital beyond 48 hours. The businesswoman had also alleged that MOH has not yet contacted her two staff who tested positive for Covid-19.
Dr Noor Hisham reportedly said people who test positive for Covid-19 should keep in touch with their district health office while waiting to be taken to hospital.
MOH has yet to issue official new guidance on home quarantine of people with mild or no symptoms of Covid-19. Malaysia has always sent everyone who tests positive for Covid-19, including mild and asymptomatic cases, to a hospital or PKRC, although the current reported problems of delayed test results and patient pick-ups in the Klang Valley were previously seen at the height of Sabah’s outbreak.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, most other countries, including the UK, order asymptomatic or mild cases to self-isolate with their household at home, in order to reserve hospital beds for the sick.
As of yesterday, 20,233 active Covid-19 cases occupy about 80 per cent of 25,456 available hospital beds, although it appears that there are still sufficient intensive care unit (ICU) beds and ventilators; currently, there are 111 Covid-19 patients in ICU and 50 on ventilators.
On Boxing Day, MOH reported the highest 24-hour rise in Covid-19 infections at 2,335 cases, as coronavirus cases nationwide have exceeded 1,000 daily on average for the past four weeks since late November. The Klang Valley is the new Covid-19 epicentre in the country.