SHAH ALAM, Sept 22 — Selangor state authorities are preparing for a possible surge in Covid-19 infections as movement restrictions are gradually lifted, despite a dramatic decline in cases and deaths since August.
Selangor state executive councillor for public health Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud described the state’s current situation as “positive but not euphoric”, as there are no guarantees that a recurrence of infections will not occur.
“We will wait until early October to see how the lifting of travel restrictions — people going to Langkawi and on holidays — impact the transmission of Covid-19. We don’t know how it will affect us so we will wait until October (to better gauge the situation),” she told reporters at a joint press conference with Selangor state health department director Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman in Shah Alam today.
Dr Siti Mariah said Selangor’s Covid-19 cases declined from a weekly total of 50,730 cases in Epid Week 31 (Aug 1-7) to 16,732 cases in Epid Week 37 (Sept 12-18), which is equivalent to a 67 per cent drop.
The number of weekly Covid-19 fatalities fell 91 per cent from a peak of 1,073 deaths in Epid Week 31 to 93 deaths in Epid Week 37.
“The downward trend is very clear and it shows that we are moving in the right direction,” Dr Siti Mariah said.
Selangor’s positive rate also declined from 22.3 per cent in Epid Week 30 (July 25-31) with 47,387 tests conducted on average daily, to 7 per cent in Epid Week 37 with an average 26,026 tests carried out per day during the week. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a benchmark 5 per cent positive rate or lower as an indicator of sufficient testing.
About 87 per cent of Covid-19 tests in Selangor are carried out by private facilities, which contribute to about 75 per cent of daily new cases in the state.
“This shows that efforts to self-quarantine at home, to follow health guidelines, and to increase the rate of vaccinations have been effective in bringing down the figures (across all the relevant indicators),” Dr Siti Mariah said.
As of Epid Week 37, Selangor had a total 10,656 active Covid-19 cases, with 26 per cent or 2,785 cases in the Hulu Langat district, 2,195 cases (20.6 per cent) in the Petaling district, and 1,645 cases (15 per cent) in the Klang district.
Selangor state health department director Dr Sha’ari said the decline in case numbers will allow the state to reconvert Serdang Hospital and Selayang Hospital — which became full Covid-19 hospitals in July — back into hybrid hospitals by September 30.
Dr Sha’ari said the decision to turn the two public hospitals back into hybrid hospitals takes into account the decline in Covid-19 hospital admissions.
Selayang Hospital, for example, had a bed occupancy rate of only 40 per cent. Dr Sha’ari said instead of being a full-fledged Covid-19 hospital, Selayang Hospital’s coronavirus cases can be distributed between Sungai Buloh Hospital and Ampang Hospital — the two main full Covid-19 hospitals in Selangor.
“We can maybe channel about 20 per cent (of the Covid-19 cases in Selayang Hospital) to Sungai Buloh Hospital, which currently has a bed occupancy rate of about 65 to 70 per cent, and the other 20 per cent to Ampang Hospital. They still have room that can be utilised for Covid-19.
“We have to bear in mind that in the region, hospitals like Selayang Hospital is the national centre for microsurgery and hepatology, while Serdang Hospital is the national centre for cardiology. We can’t deny the people’s needs in these areas as well,” Dr Sha’ari said.
However, Dr Sha’ari did not discount the possibility of reverting both Selayang Hospital and Serdang Hospital into full Covid-19 hospitals again in the event of a spike in Covid-19 cases.
“If there is a surge in Covid-19 cases, the first thing we will look into is the utilisation at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS). Right now they have about 50 patients in two separate blocks. We are losing money by paying for more resources for fewer patients so we have to be more effective in distributing and managing these patients.
“In the case of Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, it was acting as a hybrid hospital but they were skewed towards Covid-19 cases as their coronavirus patient load was a lot higher. But now it is as before as the number of Covid-19 patients that they are handling now is lower and they will refer these cases to either Sungai Buloh Hospital or Ampang Hospital so that other services can be carried out effectively as well,” Dr Sha’ari said.