Hospital bed occupancy rate falls

PUTRAJAYA: With active Covid-19 cases in the country continuing to decline, the Health Ministry is seeing some breathing space in its hospital overcapacity problem.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said one move that had helped to ease the ministry’s burden was allowing low-risk and asymptomatic Covid-19 patients to undergo home quarantine.

He said bed occupancy at hospitals and Covid-19 quarantine centres had generally dropped in the first two weeks of the month.

“In the first week of February, 28,412

Covid-19 patients were approved to undergo isolation at home.

“In the second week, 19,800 patients were under home quarantine.

“I believe this number has helped ease overcapacity at our hospitals and quarantine centres. The bed occupancy for Covid-19 patients at hospitals has dropped to 47%, and at quarantine centres, to 37%, ” he said.

He added that beds at ICU (intensive care unit) were now down to 55% in occupancy.

“Once upon a time, the figure almost reached 80% to 90%.

“Now, I think we are able to accommodate our facilities better, and this can be enhanced from time to time, ” he said at the ministry’s Covid-19 press conference here yesterday.

Patients who are classified under Categories 1 and 2 can undergo quarantine at their homes with the supervision of the ministry’s Covid-19 Assessment Centres (CAC).

(Category 1 comprises positive cases with no symptoms; and Category 2 is for positive cases with mild symptoms.)

The CAC is also tasked with assessing first if a patient’s living conditions are suitable for home quarantine.

Active cases in the country continued to decline, down from 47,135 on Feb 15 to 44,129 on Feb 16.

Of that total, 253 are currently in ICU, with 118 on ventilator support.

Earlier, he announced 5,718 Covid-19 patients had been discharged yesterday – a new record for recoveries in a single day.

The country also recorded 2,720 new Covid-19 cases and eight deaths due to the virus.

Since the start of the pandemic, the country has seen 269,165 Covid-19 infections and 224,053 recoveries.

Malaysia’s Covid-19 death toll has now reached 983.

On another matter, Dr Noor Hisham assured cancer patients in the country that they would be prioritised under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

“In the policy that we have drawn up, the first priority group will be our frontliners, particularly healthcare workers who are constantly exposed to positive cases, and to keep our healthcare system at the optimum level.

“The next priority group will be the elderly – aged 60 years and above – and those with co-morbidities who remain the most vulnerable. And the third group will be those aged 18 years and above.

“Cancer patients shall be included among the vulnerable group and will receive their vaccination during the second phase of the programme, ” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham was responding to concerns raised by cancer patients in Malaysia about whether they would miss out on the programme’s Phase Two schedule.

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