Enough beds for patients in Sabah

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry believes it has enough hospital beds to treat the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Sabah as recovery rates are just as high.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said with many patients being discharged after treatment, government hospitals were able to accept more.

“The empty beds can be used to treat new patients and the ministry is always assessing the situation and we do have plans to increase bed capacity if necessary, ” he said at the ministry’s Covid-19 press conference here.

He said there were 28 quarantine and low-risk treatment centres (PKRC) in Sabah with 7,368 beds and only 43% were currently in use.

He said in total, there were 44 government hospitals and two teaching hospitals nationwide that were ready to treat Covid-19 patients.

He said PKRC also provided additional beds and there were 60 centres nationwide with 12,235 beds at an occupancy rate of 36%.

“So we have 16,060 beds nationwide and 40% of them are in use, ” Dr Noor Hisham said. He said medical teams would soon start shifting their focus to Sabah’s west coast as the number of cases in the east coast dropped.

“Our new challenge is in the west coast involving areas such as Kota Kinabalu, Penampang and Putatan, where there is an upward trend of infections.

“Hopefully, we will be able to bring down the R0 in the next two weeks, ” he said.

R0 is used to indicate how contagious a disease is.

He said in the beginning, the teams were dealing with about 60% positive cases in Semporna but surveillance on the ground showed signs of infections slowing down.

“We also sent over 1,000 medical workers from Peninsular Malaysia and around Sabah to manage cases there and we have noticed a downward trend in cases, ” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham also said the Health Ministry was hoping that an amendment to Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988) could be done soon, to give it more bite in enforcing its Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP).

Commenting on the possibility of having an election at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is at a high, he said the ministry was concerned with non-compliance of SOP.

“It is time that we give Act 342 a relook as it was enacted in 1988. Back then, we did not expect to have a pandemic of this scale.

“Right now, the proposed amendment to Act 342 is with the Attorney General. We hope it can be done as soon as possible to give us more powers, ” he added.

On having an election, he said if it was left to the ministry, it would prefer not to hold it for the time being.

“We have developed SOP for elections and it was used during the Chini and Slim by-elections as well as the Sabah election.

“The issue, however, is non-compliance with the SOP by the people during an election, ” said Dr Noor Hisham.

The Sarawak state election is looming as it has to be held by July next year.

Speculation is also rife that a snap general election may be called.

Dr Noor Hisham said if an election could not be avoided, the ministry would recommend several sets of SOP be enforced, including a ban on large gatherings, walkabouts and inter-district travel.

Meanwhile, Malaysia recorded 799 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, with 466 or 58.3% of the cases coming from Sabah.

The country also reported three new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 249.

Another 491 patients were discharged which means the total number of people who have recovered is 20,248.

Active cases have gone up to 10,392.

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