Malaysia hits grim ICU bed record for Covid-19 patients, as Dr Noor Hisham warns again of pressure on system

·2-min read
Armed Forces personnel set up a bed in the Field ICU to combat the surge of Covid-19 cases here at the Kepala Batas Hospital, May 21, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Armed Forces personnel set up a bed in the Field ICU to combat the surge of Covid-19 cases here at the Kepala Batas Hospital, May 21, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — Health director general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today announced that almost 1,200 intensive care unit (ICU) beds have been taken up by patients who are confirmed or are “suspected and probable” of having Covid-19.

In a Facebook post today, Dr Noor Hisham said to date, 1,114 ICU beds are now occupied by Covid-19 patients, even after 439 beds were added this month alone.

This is the highest number since the pandemic began last year, he added.

“Most ICU beds are currently used for Covid-19 patients, reducing the chances of other non-Covid-19 patients receiving care.

“This state of affairs is very troubling, especially for healthcare officials and non-Covid-19 patients.

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“Although more ICU beds for Covid-19 patients have been added, the rate of use of ICU beds is still at a level above 100 per cent,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham stressed that many patients in need of ICU care are instead being treated in normal wards due to the scarcity of beds, and the problem is expected to worsen with new cases of Covid-19 reaching over 9,000 a day.

Dr Noor Hisham said the Ministry of Health (MoH) will continue to identify spaces in hospitals that can be repurposed to house ICU beds, with the first in line being the Hospital Medan ICU in Hospital Kepala Batas, Penang.

He said there has also been a suggestion to temporarily occupy the UKM Specialist Children's Hospital.

“However, human resources are among the key challenges and many of our members have already been mobilised to perform other functions in the management of this pandemic.

“Let's stay at home. If you have important matters outside, make sure you comply with the SOP (standard operating procedures) so that you and your family members are protected,” he said, ending with the tagline Kita jaga kita — meaning “we take care of ourselves”.

Yesterday, Malaysia recorded 9,020 new Covid-19 cases, along with 98 deaths due to the disease, setting new highs for both statistics.

In an attempt to curb the number of infections, the government has announced a nationwide lockdown from June 1 to June 14, placing severe restrictions on travel, business operations and other activities.

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