Khairy: Covid-19 assistance on the way to Sabah

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Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya, September 1, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya, September 1, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 6 — Sabah will begin receiving more resources from tomorrow to support its healthcare system that was under strain from the Covid-19 pandemic, said Khairy Jamaluddin.

The health minister said the additional supplies were part of the federal government’s strategy to help the state cope with the high number of Covid 19 cases and catch up with the national vaccination rate.

“There are two main things: we will see an increase in vaccine supply and we will also increase medical assets and manpower to treat the patients as best as possible.

“We will begin sending in supplies tomorrow — 480 oxygen cylinders, 24 boxes of oxygen regulators, five boxes of Covid medication — among others. These are expected to arrive by September 7,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after meeting the state’s special committee on Covid-19 at the state administrative building here today.

To help with patients, modular intensive care units with 10-bed capacities will be sent in, to be placed at a field hospital in Tawau, expected to begin at the end of September.

The Health Ministry will also allocate 29 new ambulances to hospitals in Sabah and rent additional units while waiting for these to arrive.

To help alleviate the burden on frontliners, manpower will be shifted to the state, including sending back some 97 out of the 150 newly appointed contract doctors, 78 medical assistants from Selangor will be mobilised back to Sabah and 50 medical officers will be offered permanent positions.

“The federal government would also like to affirm its commitment to send some 2.89 million doses of vaccines to Sabah.

“With this, we are confident we can increase the rate of vaccinations to 70,000 doses per day. We are still looking at achieving our target of inoculating 60 per cent of the registered adult population by September and 80 per cent by the end of October,” he said.

For this, the ministry will have to reduce dependencies on the vaccination centres and will run 130 mobile outreach programmes in next two months to reach out to rural areas, he said.

“We are scheduled to get 300,000 more single-dose CanSino vaccines this month but due to an international shortage that is the limit. We are hoping to get more next month after which we will send more to Sabah as a priority,” he said.

Khairy is on a two-day visit to Sabah to personally assess the Covid-19 situation here. Sabah is the least vaccinated state in the country and has among the highest number of cases.

Despite reports of an overwhelmed healthcare system including overstretched ICUs and emergency departments, lack of ventilators and erratic supply of vaccines, Khairy said that the state was at 90 per cent ICU capacity and 46 per cent ventilator use.

He said that there are 27 Covid-19 hospitals in Sabah with 151 ICU beds designated for Covid-19 and 1,743 beds for other uses. There are 35 low-risk quarantine and treatment centres with a 7,143-bed capacity.

There are also 224 vaccination centres in the state with capacity to administer 83,140 vaccinations per day.

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