Kedah healthcare system under tremendous stress, Penang sees surge

Plodding on: A healthcare worker taking a swab sample from a man during the PSC-19 programme at Taman Manggis Flats in George Town, Penang. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

ALOR SETAR: The rising number of Covid-19 cases is taking a heavy toll on the state’s healthcare system here, with frontliners bearing the full brunt of the impact.

Kedah health committee chairman Datuk Dr Mohd Hayati Othman said frontliners had been under immense stress coping with the ongoing pandemic for a second year running.

“It is understandable they are stressed after being overstretched by the rising number of Covid-19 cases. They can still cope but they are under a lot of pressure. Our intensive care unit beds in public hospitals are almost full,” he said.

“We can manage but we do not want to jeopardise those with non-communicable diseases as there might not be beds for them.

“If all the beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients, there will be no space for others who need treatment,” he added.

Dr Mohd Hayati said the vaccination rate had reached 30,000 people daily, adding that it was the only way to curb the spread of the virus, apart from taking precautionary measures.

He said the state government had also received help from private doctors and nurses who work at vaccination centres (PPV).

“Those who work at PPV must be certified by the Health Ministry before they can administer the vaccines.

“The only way to have a large number of people vaccinated each day is to have enough certified nurses and doctors working at the PPV,” he added.

Kedah Health director Dr Othman Warijo said 428,911 people were fully vaccinated in the state as of Wednesday.

There are 2,185,100 people in the state.

“The healthcare system is surviving as we have been adding more beds in hospitals, Low-Risk Covid-19 Quarantine and Treatment Centres and Covid-19 Assessment Centres. Our ICU beds are 95% to 100% full daily.

“We have outsourced non-Covid-19 related cases to private hospitals. We are planning to expand if needed,” he added.

Dr Othman said the state health department had been conducting 3,800 to 4,000 Covid-19 tests per day, with the private health sector helping with another 500 tests.

Kedah has seen its daily cases above the 1,000 mark for the whole of August.

It breached the 2,000 mark for the first time yesterday with 2,143 cases in a day.

The state’s death rate was also high, with 17 deaths reported on Wednesday, 20 deaths on Aug 8, 22 deaths on Aug 6 and 18 on Aug 5.

In Penang, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Penang’s Covid-19 positive rate had reached above 10% of its tested population.

He said from Aug 1 to Aug 7, a total of 51,947 screenings were conducted, with 5,841 people or 11.24% of them testing positive.

“More positive cases will be reported starting this week as the state Health Department will be using results from the RTK-Antigen tests rather than the usual RT-PCR test results.

“The daily positive cases will be based on the RTK-Antigen results, without waiting for the PCR test results.

“Only when the positive rate is less than 10% that the state Health Department will revert to the original protocol of using PCR test results,” he told reporters after checking the state’s Covid-19 mass screening programme (PSC-19) at Taman Manggis Flats here yesterday.

Chow said 100% of its adult population should have received at least their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by early September.

“By the third or fourth week of August, about 40% of our adult population should be fully vaccinated,” he said.

Penang local government committee member Jagdeep Singh Deo said a total of 27,239 people were screened under the PSC-19 programme, with 815 people or 2.99% of them testing positive.

Penang saw its daily cases hitting an all-time high on Aug 11 with 1,385 cases.

The total number of cases reached 56,633 as of Wednesday.

The recent death rate in Penang was also high, with seven deaths reported on Wednesday, 10 on Tuesday and 12 on Monday.

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