Sunday, February 21, 2021

Putrajaya enters key phase in Covid battle to keep Malaysia from going Italy’s way

Officials are taking seriously warnings by experts about the pandemic's toll on the public health system.

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Top officials in Putrajaya are stepping up the war on Covid-19 amid concerns that the country could follow the path of European nations hard hit by the pandemic within the next one month, with new infections hitting four figures each day.

Sources who spoke to those involved in the daily monitoring of the Covid-19 situation said the country could hit 3,000 new infections each day in four weeks’ time.

“We don’t want to become like Italy, where we reach the point at which we need to choose which patient to save.

“If that happens, perhaps only those below 69 years old will have access to treatment,” the source told MalaysiaNow.

Italy, the first European country to be hit by the global pandemic, is among the countries with the highest numbers of deaths compared to its population, with 98 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants.

“We don’t want to become like Italy, where we reach the point at which we need to choose which patient to save.”

During its first wave of Covid-19 infections in March last year, it recorded about 5,500 deaths and over 60,000 positive cases.

Since December, officials have been focusing on preparations for another round of infections amid a projected scenario of 5,000 daily cases by end-February, which could put further pressure on government hospitals and frontliners already treating thousands of patients every day.

ICUs at hospitals are reaching full capacity due to an increase in Covid-19 patients with chronic underlying illnesses, a problem compounded by cases of health workers themselves falling victim to the virus.

Yesterday, MalaysiaNow reported that the government is weighing a tighter form of movement control order that would see restrictions on interstate travel and social activities in six states classified as red zones, including the Klang Valley.

It is learnt that in states like Melaka, Kedah, Johor, Penang and Selangor, more than 70% of hospital beds at government facilities have been taken up by Covid-19 patients alone.

“We don’t have a lot of room left to treat patients.”

“In Johor, the Enche Besar Hajjah Kalsum hospital has already hit 100% capacity in terms of beds and facilities.

“Hospital Sungai Buloh has also reached 100% capacity while the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (PPUM) has used up all its beds.

“We don’t have a lot of room left to treat patients. If daily cases continue to hit four figures, in a month’s time our healthcare system will collapse and we won’t be able to take in any more patients.”

Covid-19 cases began spiking in September following the Sabah state election, sparking what the health ministry called a third wave of infections.

Yesterday, new cases hit a high of 2,593 while the death toll increased to 513.

Meanwhile, the source said there are currently 44 Covid-19 patients in critical condition waiting for a place in an ICU, all of which are running at maximum capacity.

“The Sungai Buloh hospital can’t take in other patients because there isn’t enough manpower,” it added.

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