Covid-19 Killing Parents Together, Whole Families Infected: Expert

Dr Benedict Sim Lim Heng from Sungai Buloh Hospital says many sick Covid-19 patients now are in their 40s to 60s, and even 20s to 40s, compared to a month ago when most were in their 60s to 80s.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — More young adults in Malaysia are getting admitted at the worst stage of Covid-19 disease requiring life support, said an infectious disease physician from Sungai Buloh Hospital.

Dr Benedict Sim Lim Heng from Malaysia’s main Covid-19 facility based in Selangor revealed that over the last two to four weeks, the Covid-19 situation took a turn for the worse during the total lockdown that started June 1.

“The situation actually turned scarier. It is quite dire at times,” Dr Sim said Monday at Astro Awani’s “Consider This” talk show.

“We are seeing young patients who are being brought in at the most advanced stage of the disease. People in their 30s or 40s are being brought in and needing to be put on life support machines.”

He also highlighted a distressful situation when on some occasions, entire families were admitted into hospital due to the coronavirus.

“We are seeing the outbreak in some cases, in fact, in many occasions, affecting whole families. And some of these families are very badly affected, where we’ve got fathers and sons being on ventilators side by side, mothers and daughters, persons losing both their parents on the same day, and whole families getting infected with many of them being severe, and some of them not making it through.”

Dr Benedict Sim Lim Heng, infectious disease consultant at Sungai Buloh Hospital

Dr Sim also noted that the deteriorating period of Covid-19 patients has become shorter compared to the earlier situation. Besides elderly people, young people suffering from Covid-19 develop illness within a shorter period of time, he said.

He pointed out the acute Covid-19 situation in Selangor and the Klang Valley, saying that health care professionals are struggling to bring down the infections.

“The clinical presentation has changed somewhat, where we are seeing young patients getting severe diseases. This was something that even a month ago, was different from what we’re seeing today.

“A month ago, we were still dealing with the majority of ill patients who were in their 60s to 80s. Currently, a lot of the ill patients are actually in their 40s to 60s and even between the 20s to 40s age group.”

In the past two weeks from June 16 to 29, Malaysia reported 1,039 coronavirus-related fatalities. The Klang Valley comprised about half of the nation’s Covid-19 deaths in that period with 515 fatalities: Selangor (386) and Kuala Lumpur (129).

Between June 22 and June 28, the Klang Valley reported a total of 18,436 new Covid-19 cases: Selangor (14,135 cases), Kuala Lumpur (4,214 cases) and Putrajaya (87 cases). The Klang Valley comprised 48.2 per cent of Malaysia’s total number of new Covid-19 cases (38,247 cases) in the same period.

Dr Sim said that the number of new young Covid-19 patients is accelerating rapidly and worsening from the coronavirus faster.

“But in the current scenario, we are seeing patients deteriorate faster. So there are patients that are coming in and telling us that, look, I was fine until this morning, and now this evening things have become very bad.”

Dr Sim explained the happy hypoxia scenario which might be the reason for the quick deterioration of Covid-19 patients.

Hypoxia means a low level of oxygen in the blood which can cause breathing difficulties. But if a person experiences “happy hypoxia”, then he or she might feel completely normal at the beginning stage of hypoxia and suddenly develop serious breathing problems when it is too late.

“One of the reasons why they’re feeling comfortable is because they are resting at home. So they are not exerting themselves and they are not at their usual level of exertion. So they don’t feel the stress from breathing,” Dr Sim added.

The New Straits Times reported on June 28 that a 29-year-old Covid-19 patient is now suffering from long Covid syndrome as her lungs are not functioning properly.

The patient who recovered from Stage Five of the illness said that her current lung condition can never recover completely and she has to live with that condition for the rest of her life.

According to Dr Sim, Malaysia’s ICU bed occupancy rate is still very high among Covid-19 patients, as Sungai Buloh Hospital reached its maximum capacity in treating critically ill patients last month.

He said ICU beds in other hospitals have also been filled, including private health care facilities holding more patients on ventilator support.

“So the situation has actually become fairly scary.”

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