The country is facing a third wave of Covid-19 which is even more challenging especially with the emergence of several new variants which are more aggressive, thereby contributing to a higher infection rate of the disease in Malaysia, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba says.
Adham, when tabling a briefing session on Actions to Combat the Covid-19 Pandemic at the special sitting of Dewan Rakyat today, said the spike in transmission in the third wave was through sporadic cases which were not related to cluster cases.
“The third wave began on Sept 20, 2020 and is still going on. As at yesterday, 1,017,787 positive Covid-19 cases with 8,071 deaths were recorded.
“Even though the number of positive Covid-19 cases is high, the number of serious cases under Categories Three, Four and Five, based on the clinical conditions when they were initially diagnosed, is small compared to the total overall cases,” he said.
To fight the pandemic, he said the government was taking a comprehensive approach to protect lives and ensure the survival of the people as well as the rehabilitation of the economy.
He said among the measures taken to treat Covid-19 positive individuals was the setting up of low-risk Covid-19 quarantine and treatment centres (PKRC). As of yesterday, he said, PKRC occupancy nationwide was at 61%.
In terms of the facilities at these centres, he said, the health ministry had provided a total of 29,835 beds at all 132 PKRCs throughout the country.
He said for all 221 Covid-19 hospitals, there were 15,090 beds at public health facilities and 1,288 at private facilities with 1,405 ICU beds at public hospitals and 128 at private hospitals.
“Medical equipment such as ventilators, patient monitoring devices and others were also increased to strengthen the capability and preparedness to combat the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Meanwhile, Adham said RM7.13 billion (RM1 billion in 2020 and RM6.13 billion in 2021) had been received by the health ministry for the screening and treatment of Covid-19 patients (RM2.35 billion) while RM4.78 billion was for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines as well as consumables and vaccine storage equipment.
He said following the current requirements, the health ministry was seeking a supplementary allocation of RM1.14 billion for the procurement of health equipment such as reagents, consumables, personal protective equipment and so on.
On the question of ministry human resources for the management of the outbreak until April 30, 2021, he said a total of 278,023 permanent posts had been approved apart from more than 40,000 appointments on contract.
He said the health ministry had also appointed 1,519 additional contract health personnel based on the approval of central agencies to be placed at health facilities in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Negeri Sembilan.
“We are not sure when the pandemic can be controlled and completely end… the service and sacrifices of the frontline health workers who work hard in providing the best health services to Malaysians should not go in vain.
“Some of them have not seen their family members for months and have had to stay away to treat and save the lives of patients until some of them have been infected,” he said.
On the detection of Covid-19, Adham said until yesterday, the capacity of RT-PCR laboratory tests nationwide had recorded an increase of 1,874%, that is 122,603 per day compared to 6,210 in March 2020.
He said based on this increase in capacity, the testing capacity of each state had been increased, for example in Selangor which went up to 2.43 million in the first six months of 2021 compared to 840,165 tests last year.