Health DG: We can flatten curve within four months

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia can flatten the Covid-19 curve in three to four months but this will require a combination of public health measures and also an accelerated vaccination drive.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that with the rise of new variants of concern, the two-week lockdown starting tomorrow was necessary to reduce the number of cases and give frontliners the much-needed breathing space.

He also warned that doctors would be forced to make the tough call over which patient should be given a bed in the intensive care unit (ICU) due to the strapped healthcare system caused by the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.

“We must ramp up vaccinations and in June we should be able to dispense over 10 million doses.

“Our behaviour is the first line of defence and if we can increase vaccination rates, that will increase our protection against the virus.

“We have to use the strategy of combining public health measures and increasing vaccination rates, and with this, we may be able to flatten the curve in three to four months, ” he said at a joint press conference with Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham said when active Covid-19 cases exceed the capacity of healthcare facilities in the country, doctors would have to prioritise ICU beds for patients with a high recovery potential.

“The Health Ministry has warned of possible scenarios in which doctors would have to make the difficult choice to prioritise ICU beds for patients with a high recovery potential over patients with low recovery potential (poor prognosis).

“This is a difficult situation that we are all facing and the Health Ministry calls on all parties to work together, ” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham also said the number of available beds in the ICU, Covid-19 hospitals as well as in quarantine and treatment centres, were declining due to the rising number of cases.

The usage of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients is now at 104% capacity, with 1,113 beds in use, while Covid-19 hospital beds have reached 85% capacity, with 10,190 patients currently hospitalised.

As for Covid-19 quarantine and treatment centres, beds are now at 65% capacity, with 27,183 beds in use while ventilators are at 60%, with 2,138 total usage, of which 39% are for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, yesterday saw 6,999 new infections reported, bringing the tally to 565,533 cases since the outbreak began early last year.

A total of 79 deaths involving 78 Malaysians and one non-citizen were also recorded.

There were 5,121 recoveries.

Dr Noor Hisham said that among the 78,017 active cases in the country, 846 patients were in the ICU and 419 were intubated.

There are also 17 new clusters, bringing the number of current active clusters to 635 while the national Rt or infectivity rate currently stands at 1.16.

“The number of cases reported daily is showing a sharp increase, according to the exponential graph. An increase of between a thousand and two thousand cases daily is not impossible.

“We have seen 98 deaths in a day on May 29 due to Covid-19.

“The situation will also possibly continue and it is not impossible that it can continue to increase, ” he said.

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