COVID-19 | Frontliners staffing the intensive care unit (ICU) ward at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Kota Kinabalu are struggling to cope after more than half of the nurses have been forced into quarantine.
Malaysiakini learnt that 40 of the 66 nurses taking care of the ICU ward had been forced into quarantine after at least one staff member tested positive for Covid-19.
Well-placed sources at the hospital told Malaysiakini that the medical staff was believed to have contracted the virus from the community before returning to work.
This caused the ICU ward to become strained at a time when the critically-ill patients suffering from Covid-19 are rising, and ICU treatment can mean between life and death.
Queen Elizabeth II Hospital is not a Covid-19 hospital but it is tasked to take all non-Covid-19 ICU patients from Queen Elizabeth I Hospital, also in Kota Kinabalu.
This is to free up the ICU ward at Queen Elizabeth I Hospital which is dedicated to Covid-19 patients.
However, with the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital's ICU ward crippled, this impacts on Queen Elizabeth I Hospital's ability to reserve ICU beds for Covid-19 patients.
Health Minister Adham Baba, when contacted, confirmed that at least one nurse at the ICU ward was infected with Covid-19 on October 8.
"All precautionary and treatment measures have been undertaken. The details about the ICU situation at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital is being handled by the Sabah Health Department," he told Malaysiakini.
Adham also promised that efforts are being made to reinforce the heavily strained medical team at the ICU ward.
"(Medical staff) have been mobilised," he added.
With only 26 nurses left, the hospital had to transfer at least two patients out of the ICU ward.
Malaysiakini understands that several of the nurses quarantined have symptoms involving the respiratory tract, but it is not confirmed that their colleague has infected them.
However, they are placed under quarantine as a precaution.
Swab tests are being conducted on the nurses as well as the patients in the ward that they have treated.
Measures are also being undertaken to limit contact of frontliners at the ICU ward with other medical staff in the hospital.
As of yesterday, 68 Covid-19 patients have been placed into ICU, and 25 of these patients needed ventilators to breathe.
Government hospitals in Sabah have a total of 72 ICU beds.
Efforts are underway to increase the bed capacity in all Sabah hospitals to cope with the rising Covid-19 cases.
As of yesterday, 2,105 out of the 3,864 patients who are undergoing treatment for Covid-19 are in Sabah.