Operation Surge Capacity Slashes Sabah Covid-19 Death Toll

Daily Covid-19 fatalities in Sabah dropped 64% from an average 42 deaths on Sept 1 to an average 15 deaths on Sept 15, after MOH sent additional oxygen supply, among other medical resources.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — Sabah’s Covid-19 fatalities fell significantly after federal health authorities poured medical resources and vaccines into the rural state under Operation Surge Capacity.

Daily new coronavirus-related fatalities in Sabah — which previously saw hospitals choked with Covid-19 patients — declined 64 per cent from a high of 42 deaths on September 1 to just 15 yesterday, based on rolling seven-day averages.

Average daily brought-in-dead (BID) cases who succumbed to Covid-19 before being able to seek medical treatment similarly dropped from a peak of 19 cases on September 1 to six on September 15. However, BIDs still form a large share of fatalities, comprising 40 per cent of the 15 deaths yesterday. Nineteen BIDs comprised 45 per cent of 42 people who died from Covid-19 on September 1.

As 33 per cent of Sabah’s total population were fully inoculated only by September 8, less than two weeks ago, deaths likely declined because of increased health care capacity, rather than vaccination per se. To date, Sabah has fully vaccinated about 37 per cent of its total population.

Experts previously told CodeBlue that they estimated a reduction in Covid-19 mortality a fortnight after complete vaccination of 33.3 per cent of the total population.

However, hospitalisation rates in Sabah have also declined to 82 per cent capacity in Covid-19 intensive care units (ICUs) and 84 per cent in non-ICU hospital beds for coronavirus patients as of September 14.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) delivered 480 oxygen cylinders, 48 oxygen regulators, and a stock of drugs to treat Covid-19 to Sabah on September 7. Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also said on September 6 that MOH would deliver 2.89 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Sabah, besides an additional 29 ambulances, extra medical officers, and a modular intensive care unit (ICU) for Tawau Hospital with 10 beds.

Daily new Covid-19 infections in Sabah dropped 34 per cent from a peak of 3,006 cases on August 28 to 1,982 yesterday, based on rolling seven-day averages, but reported cases likely decreased due to reduced testing as positive rates remain high.

Coronavirus testing in the state fell 38.8 per cent from an average of 14,149 daily tests in the 33rd epidemiological week of August 15 to 21, to just 8,658 tests a day in the 36th epidemiological week of September 5 to 11.

Sabah’s daily positive rate, based on daily tests conducted, averaged 25 per cent in the week of September 5 to 11, declining slightly from 25.5 per cent the previous week.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a benchmark 5 per cent positive rate as an indicator of sufficient testing, while MOH believes 10 per cent or less is adequate.

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