Health Ministry: ‘Happy hypoxia’ among Malaysia’s young Covid-19 patients contributed to 35pc increase in Category 4, 5 hospital admissions

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Hypoxemia is a condition marked by low levels of oxygen in the blood that results in shortness of breath and if untreated, may cause organ failure, leading to death. — Picture from Pexels.com
Hypoxemia is a condition marked by low levels of oxygen in the blood that results in shortness of breath and if untreated, may cause organ failure, leading to death. — Picture from Pexels.com

KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — Young asymptomatic Covid-19 patients who have the “happy hypoxia” condition but do not realise it until their health condition is seriously affected is one of the reasons for the 35 per cent hike in the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital under the two most severe categories since early May, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said today.

On Twitter, the ministry listed several reasons for the increase in hospital admissions of Covid-19 patients in the Category 4 (symptomatic, having pneumonia and requiring supplemental oxygen) and Category 5 (symptomatic, having pneumonia, requiring supplemental oxygen and having multi-organ complications). (Category 1 is defined as asymptomatic, Category 2 as symptomatic with no pneumonia, Category 3 as symptomatic, with pneumonia).

“One of the factors is the occurrence of happy hypoxia among young patients who do not realise the problem of decrease in oxygen until the situation becomes more serious,” it said in the tweet.

In an infographic attached to the tweet, it further explained “happy hypoxia” among young and healthy patients as a condition where patients do not display any symptoms and do not realise that they are experiencing the problem of lack of oxygen until their health condition has become serious and is badly affected which caused delay in obtaining early treatment.

The other reasons listed for the 35 per cent increase in Category 4 and Category 5 Covid-19 patients’ hospital admissions since early May are infections of Covid-19 variants that are more aggressive or variants of concern (VOC), and as there is currently still no specific treatment available for Covid-19 and patients becoming less responsive to existing support treatment as compared to in the early stages of the pandemic.

Previously on January 29, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba told Malay Mail in an interview of the happy hypoxia condition that has been detected in Covid-19 patients including abroad, where most who have the condition are asymptomatic Covid-19 patients.

Hypoxemia is a condition marked by low levels of oxygen in the blood that results in shortness of breath and if untreated, may cause organ failure, leading to death.

Medical experts worldwide have observed a baffling hypoxemic reaction in some Covid-19 patients, noting that despite the low blood oxygen levels — sometimes dipping below 50 per cent compared to the 95 per cent in a healthy person — they appear to be able to function without serious problems or even shortness of breath, hence the name “happy hypoxia”.

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