Sungai Buloh Hospital Delays Admitting Severe Covid-19 Patients Amid Surge

By Ashswita Ravindran | 13 January 2021

The proportion of Category Four and Five Covid-19 patients — severe cases requiring oxygen or ventilator support — has exponentially surged from 2.76% of patients in Sungai Buloh Hospital on November 2, 2020 to 15.49% on January 11, 2021.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — A Sungai Buloh Hospital physician today acknowledged a delay in the Covid-19 hospital admitting severely sick Covid-19 patients due to a surge of such cases over the past two weeks.

Sungai Buloh Hospital is the only designated Covid-19 treatment hospital in Selangor, the country’s most developed state that has been reporting the highest number of coronavirus cases nationwide for the past few weeks, sometimes exceeding 1,000 infections daily.

“It is the recent weeks, one to two weeks, when the Category Four patients increased, and that’s the space in the main hospital where we need oxygenated beds,” Dr Suresh Kumar, the head of medicine and infectious disease consultant from Sungai Buloh Hospital, said during a webinar by Edunity Foundation and G25 Malaysia earlier today.

“We struggle to move patients, so there has been a delay in taking them over; no patients have been turned down.”

According to Dr Suresh, the number of Covid-19 patients in Sungai Buloh Hospital requiring intensive care unit (ICU) beds — Category Four and Five patients — has been exponentially increasing, from 2.76 per cent of Covid-19 patients in his facility on November 2 last year, to 15.49 per cent on January 11 this year.

“The proportion of patients Category Four and Five requiring oxygen or ventilator has exponentially gone up.

“Every week now, I have to open a new ward, a 28-bedded ward to cater to these oxygenated patients,” he said, referring to Sungai Buloh Hospital.

Category Four and Five are classified as the severe stages of Covid-19 disease. Category Four patients are symptomatic patients with pneumonia requiring supplemental oxygen, while Category Five patients are critically ill.

Dr Suresh also said that there are no bed shortage issues among the Category One and Two Covid-19 patients, but the Health Ministry will be isolating such cases in their own homes. Category One patients do not have any symptoms, while Category Two patients have symptoms but without pneumonia. Category Three patients have pneumonia but can still breathe on their own.

Dr Suresh also explained that before September 2020, the total number of Covid-19 cases was low, hence the proportion of undiagnosed Covid-19 patients was small, mostly asymptomatic while some were mild cases.

However, when the number of new Covid-19 cases started to increase, more than what the public health system can handle, the fraction of undiagnosed Covid-19 cases increased, adding to the number of mild cases going undiagnosed.

This indicates that Malaysia has far more Covid-19 cases, including undetected asymptomatic and mild cases, than official figures that mostly capture people showing symptoms. Malaysia has been reporting nearly 2,000 new Covid-19 cases a day on average in the past week.

Dr Suresh added that the death rate due to Covid-19 is also rising. The death rate during the third wave of the Malaysian epidemic was more than 100 deaths a month, as compared to the first and second wave. As of January 10, there have been 80 deaths already reported due to Covid-19.

Besides that, the infectious disease consultant also said those in the age group of between 71 and 80 had a higher proportion of developing severe Covid-19, followed by those between the age group of 61 to 70 years.

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