Photos and videos showing patients sitting shoulder to shoulder in hospital wards while others are resting on beds crammed next to one another have gone viral on social media and messaging apps
In the videos that SAYS sighted, patients can be seen being seated on stretchers placed at various corners in a hospital ward, while beds are put closely together in order to house more patients.
One of the viral videos was shared by Klang member of Parliament (MP) Charles Santiago. It not only shows COVID-19 patients sleeping on camp beds placed outside the emergency department of Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (HTAR) Klang, it also shows that the emergency lobby has been converted into a makeshift ward with patients resting in the area in a disorderly manner.
Another 16-second long video shows patients sitting on benches placed perpendicularly to the areas that are normally meant for hospital beds. Patients are seen wearing oxygen masks that are connected to medical gas pipelines attached to the wall.
Each area is encased with transparent cubicle curtains. Some patients can be seen sleeping in an upright position.
The distressing videos surfaced after the Ministry of Health (MOH) repeatedly stressed over the past weeks that hospitals in Klang Valley are operating at "overcapacity"
On Wednesday, 7 July, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said four of the most infectious states and territories have daily new cases higher than the maximum capacity that the states' hospitals can handle.
The states and territories are Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Labuan.
The trend has been worsening since mid-June when the occupancy for intensive care unit (ICU) beds hospitals reached 90%.
Now, the hospitals are operating at "overcapacity".
According to the MOH's latest seven-day COVID-19 statistics, Negeri Sembilan has the highest ICU utilisation rate at an average of 166% — well above the 100% capacity rate.
Other than the official statement from Noor Hisham, accounts given by medical officers on the ground level also depict a similar bleak situation
Speaking to several medical professionals in Klang Valley hospitals, CodeBlue's report on Wednesday likened Malaysia's current bed shortage crisis to India.
"We don't really know what's causing this," a medical officer at Ampang Hospital told the independent healthcare news portal on condition of anonymity.
"All we know is that these patients are in healthy condition one day, and they have breathing difficulties the next."
It is learnt that the hospital received about 100 stage four COVID-19 patients from the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) on Sunday, 4 July.
Before they could make arrangements for the new influx of patients, they received another another 120 severe cases from the quarantine centre.
It's like trying to empty the ocean with a thimble.
"Admissions are high but discharges are low. And that is not inclusive of critical patients under pre-hospital care and ambulance calls or those who walked in," the Ampang Hospital doctor said.
"We accept them, but we don't know what to do with them."
One staff working at HTAR Klang said that the condition in the hospital is similar to India, revealing that some patients had to lie down in front of the payment counter due to bed shortage.
"The whole scenario is like India — patients are lying on the floor everywhere," said the HTAR Klang staff.
Additionally, the report also noted that hospitals in Klang Valley have become a virus "land mine", whereby COVID-19 negative individuals entering the premises are likely to leave with an infection
Citing the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CodeBlue reported aerosol as a key mode of infection.
In other words, COVID-19 is airborne.
"That's another issue that we are facing," said a Selayang Hospital staff member.
"Patients are popping up positive (for COVID-19) in the ward from out of nowhere. It's literally like stepping into a land mine."
CodeBlue's report also highlighted other pressing issues at the hospitals, such as computerised system malfunction, overworking, and loss of hope among medical workers, among others.
A medical staff reportedly worked 20 hours during an extended shift in a day.
In response to the crisis, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba allocated RM1.1 million worth of supplies to HTAR Klang.
Other hospitals in the country's most populous area will also receive ICU beds and other equipment, reported Malaysiakini.
The allocation came after Klang MP Charles pleaded with the federal government to "immediately intervene to mitigate the tragedy".
He also urges the government to convert nearby budget hotels and public halls to medical centres as an interim measure.
To better protect yourself against COVID-19, MOH advises members of the public to wear double masks:
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