KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — The government is accelerating efforts to resolve the health care crisis in Klang Valley by adding more beds, oxygen supply, and medical manpower to hospitals struggling with a surge of Covid-19 cases.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba in a statement today said active measures were identified to improve the readiness of quarantine and treatment centres as well as hospitals in the Klang Valley to receive and treat a rising number of Categories Four and Five Covid-19 patients suffering severe disease.
This includes the addition of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in public and university hospitals such as Ampang Hospital and Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Teaching Hospital (HPUPM) to allow for the transfer of critically ill coronavirus patients from MAEPS (Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang).
The MAEPS Integrated Covid-19 Quarantine and Low-Risk Treatment Centre (PKRC) 2.0 has a total bed capacity of 5,198, of which 154 have been designated for Category Four patients who require oxygen support.
The utilisation rate of these oxygen-supported beds, however, has exceeded its limit due to the overflow of critically ill coronavirus patients at the quarantine centre. Beds for Covid-19 patients in Categories One, Two and Three are also nearly fully utilised.
“The MAEPS PKRC 2.0 receives an average of 800 Covid-19 patients a day with an average 200 patients being Covid-19 patients who are in Category Four,” Dr Adham said.
A contract doctor at MAEPS previously wrote to CodeBlue that seven medical officers had active Covid-19 infections as of Monday.
The MAEPS facility was initially meant to house low-risk Categories One and Two patients, but has since expanded to include Categories Three and Four as daily cases surge in Klang Valley.
At the Tuanku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (HTAR) in Klang — which resorted to deploying stretcher beds outside its emergency department — more beds and medical equipment worth an estimated RM1.1 million will be extended to cope with the sudden rush of incoming patients.
The Malaysian Armed Forces will also help to set up a field hospital at HTAR with a capacity of 50 additional beds. The Tuanku Mizan Armed Forces Hospital in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur, will immediately receive and treat Covid-19 patients in Categories Three and Four.
Effective tomorrow (July 8), more than 110 health officers comprising over 75 medical officers, paramedics and drivers from Kedah, Perak and Terengganu, in addition to 43 health workers from Klang Valley hospitals will be temporarily placed at the MAEPS facility for up to six months.
“We are currently working to have more health care workers from other areas where the situation is under control, to be actively assigned in the Klang Valley,” Dr Adham said.
Volunteers from the Red Crescent Society will also be deployed to help provide care for paediatric Covid-19 patients, whose parents are being hospitalised for coronavirus.
CodeBlue previously reported Klang Valley hospitals as being on the brink of collapse, following anecdotal accounts of frontline medical workers who described scenes of patients lying on the floor due to full beds, converting wards into Covid-19 treatment areas, and stacking bodies on trolleys to quickly clear beds for new admissions.
The unfolding nightmare of Klang Valley hospitals buckling under a vicious Covid-19 surge is akin to India’s crisis at the height of its epidemic.
Dr Adham said the government will promptly add 1,550 oxygen cylinders to meet the demands of patients in need of respiratory assistance at the MAEPS facility. To ensure MAEPS’ supply of oxygen is uninterrupted, Dr Adham said the Ministry of Health (MOH) has decided to procure 300 units of oxygen concentrators and procure oxygen supply from more than one supplier.
Testing and commissioning for 30 oxygen concentrators at MAEPS were carried out at the facility on July 7 so that the equipment can be immediately used for patient care.
The federal administration is also working with private medical practitioners and employers to establish a Covid-19 Assessment Center (CAC) and establish a PKRC.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday said the health care system is at risk of paralysis as Covid-19 cases exceed hospital capacity in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Labuan.
He said official data revealed that the four states and federal territories are showing an average of more than 37 daily Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people and an average 2.6 per cent increase during 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.
Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry has converted some hospitals in the Klang Valley into full Covid-19 hospitals namely, Sungai Buloh Hospital, Ampang Hospital and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Children’s Specialist Hospital.
MOH is also considering changing the status of Shah Alam Hospital for treating Covid-19 cases and repurposing beds in its regular wards for critically ill Covid-19 patients.
Other public health facilities being considered to treat Covid-19 patients are HPUPM and Universiti Teknologi MARA Hospital. Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry is also collaborating with 112 private hospitals in the Klang Valley to increase Covid-19 beds.
Today, MOH reported 8,868 new Covid-19 cases, including 4,152 infections in Selangor and 1,133 in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia’s total reported Covid-19 cases hit 808,658 as of today. MOH has yet to publish the number of Covid-19 deaths reported over the past 24 hours.
As of yesterday, 5,768 people in Malaysia died from the coronavirus, including 91 new fatalities reported yesterday.