PETALING JAYA, Jan 13: Sungai Buloh Hospital, the main treatment centre for Covid-19 cases in the Klang Valley, today revealed that it has been opening up new intensive care units (ICU) every week, following the recent spike in daily infections in the country.

The head of the hospital’s Infectious Diseases Department, Dr Suresh Kumar, said Sungai Buloh Hospital had recently seen an increase from 2.76% to 15.49% in Category 4 and 5 patients requiring respiratory assistance.

Category 4 patients are symptomatic with lung infection and need oxygen supplementation while those in Category 5, the highest category, are critical patients with multiple organ complications.

“Our ICU rates are exponentially going up, compared with what you see in normal times,” he said at a webinar on seeking solutions to the pandemic organised by the Edunity Foundation and G25 group of former senior civil servants.

“Every week, we’ve had to open up a new 28-bed ward to cater to oxygenated patients. It started with one ward, now we have eight wards.”

Suresh gave an assurance the hospital had not turned away any Covid-19 cases, but admitted there had been delays in treating and moving patients during the last two weeks because of a lack of manpower.

While Putrajaya has mandated employers to provide quarantine centres for their foreign workers and begun treating Category 1 and 2 patients (with no or mild symptoms) at home, Suresh said these measures were not enough to help the overwhelmed healthcare system.

He added that the health ministry was reaching out to private hospitals and general practitioners to discuss ways in which they could assist in fighting against Covid-19.

Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, a consultant paediatrician at KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital, warned against transferring Covid-19 patients to private hospitals as most of their doctors were over 60 years old and considered part of the high-risk group.

He suggested that private hospitals take on more non-Covid-19 cases instead, to prevent exposing older specialists to the virus.

Musa also said the government should have switched to rapid antigen testing earlier, whereby test results were obtained within an hour, and those tested positive could be isolated faster in order to prevent new clusters.


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