Covid-19: Less severe Omicron could still cause surge in hospital admissions, says Health DG

PETALING JAYA: Although the number of severe Covid-19 cases in the country has continued to reduce, the Health Ministry is still concerned that the emergence of the Omicron variant could cause an increase in hospital admissions.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said while the Omicron variant could be not as severe as the Delta variant, its infectivity rate was very high.

“Because of Omicron’s high transmissibility, this can lead to an increase in patient admissions requiring ‘short stay’ treatments at hospitals.

“This is especially so among patients who are deemed high-risk such as the elderly, individuals with comorbidities as well as children. This in turn can add pressure to the hospital service system.

“The ministry had to come up with several measures to prepare for a possible surge in cases and admissions,” said Dr Noor Hisham in his daily Covid-19 statement on Monday (Jan 17).

He said among the ministry’s measures include using district hospitals as “hybrid hospitals” to treat Category 1-3 Covid-19 patients, and to refer Category 4-5 patients to specialist hospitals.

“Stable Covid-19 patients are monitored at home by the Covid-19 Assessment Centre (CAC) until the end of their quarantine period.

“The ministry has also identified antiviral medicines for patients at CACs or low-risk quarantine centres to use at an early stage,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

Dr Noor Hisham said to manage the spread of Omicron, the public is advised to continue adhering to the ministry’s standard operating procedures and also to obtain Covid-19 boosters.

Based on the ministry’s weekly Covid-19 analysis, the number of weekly cases saw a rise of 0.7% – from 21,859 (Jan 2-8) to 22,006 (Jan 9-15).

The average number of active Covid-19 cases also saw a 2.4% increase – from 38,581 active cases (Jan 2- 8) to 39,507 (Jan 9-15).

However, the number of Covid-19 deaths as well as intensive care unit (ICU) and ventilator usage showed a reduction over the same period.

On Monday (Jan 17), Malaysia recorded 2,342 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 2,810,689.

Dr Noor Hisham said currently, there are 184 ICU cases nationwide with 87 requiring breathing assistance.

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