PETALING JAYA,Jan 15: Private hospitals are making preparations in case they are directed to accept Covid-19 patients following the recent increase in cases which has put a strain on public hospitals.

A letter to members of the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia sighted by FMT said the association was taking stock of the number of beds in general wards as well as intensive care wards that could be used for treatment of Covid-19 patients.

A minimum of 10% of bed capacity was expected to be set aside for Covid-19 cases, the letter said. Responses to the survey were expected by today.

According to the letter, there was a possibility that private hospitals might have to manage Covid-19 cases on their own, and that government hospitals might no longer accept referrals of Covid-19 patients from private hospitals. Covid-19 cases might also be transferred to private hospitals. At present, all Covid-19 patients are treated at designated government hospitals.

The letter said any decision on the changes would be announced by the health ministry.

A former head of the Malaysian Medical Association, John Chew, said Covid-19 cases should be kept isolated and within one hospital as a basic principle of infection control. There should be no mixing of Covid-19 and other patients to avoid cross-contamination which he said “is a real possibility”.

News of the association’s letter came in the wake of a warning yesterday that private hospitals could be directed to take in Category 1 and Category 2 Covid-19 patients under the government’s emergency powers. Private hospitals that refuse to do so could be fined up to RM5 million or even sentenced to jail, senior ministry for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.
However, he said this option was not being considered yet, pending discussions with private hospitals.

The association’s president, Dr Kuljit Singh, said there were no instances of private hospitals refusing to accept Covid-19 patients. “There is no cause for concern as we will extend our cooperation to the health ministry,” he told FMT yesterday.

Kuljit said he met with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Tuesday, and assured him that private hospitals will cooperate with the government to help treat Covid-19 patients.


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