Healthcare frontliners in Malaysia are facing burnout as they handle the seemingly unending high number of COVID-19 cases in the country
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah wrote in his daily COVID-19 statement that the ministry is deeply concerned that there has not been much improvement in the occupancy of intensive care units (ICU) since June.
"The admission rate of COVID-19 cases into ICU is still high. There has been no significant reduction from the 23rd Epidemiology Week, from 6 to 12 June, where ICU bed usage was over 90%," he wrote.
"At the same time, frontline medical and health workers are suffering from burnout as they have been dealing with so many COVID-19 cases for a prolonged period of time."
He also revealed that hospitals in four states — namely Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Labuan — have been operating at overcapacity for awhile now
In these four states, he explained, the number of new daily cases are higher than the maximum capacity that the states' hospitals can take in – they have recently reported over 38 new COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 residents.
"New daily cases that are reported show no signs of going down, instead, cases have gone up by an average of 2.6% over the last seven days," Dr Noor Hisham said.
"If this continues, the healthcare systems in these states will be crippled and the same situation may happen to the rest of the country."
The Star reported that this statement appears to be the Health director-general's strongest warning to the country to date.
Dr Noor Hisham said some measures have been taken, while others are still in planning, to address the concerning situation
To increase the capacity to treat COVID-19 cases, Dr Noor Hisham said more hospitals have been converted into 'Full COVID-19 Hospitals', that includes Ampang Hospital, Sungai Buloh Hospital, and UKM Specialist Children's Hospital.
The ministry has also worked to increase bed capacity in Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Selayang Hospital, and Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang Hospital as centres to treat category four and five patients.They are also considering using Shah Alam Hospital, Universiti Putra Malaysia Teaching Hospital, and Universiti Teknologi MARA Hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, while mobilising more healthcare workers from states in Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) to help the others.
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Overwhelmed, Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang has resorted to placing some patients outside on camp beds:
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