GEORGE TOWN, Sept 11 — The Health Ministry (MOH) will mobilise 200 frontline personnel from other states to help Penang, following the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the frontline personnel would include medical officers, medical assistants and nurses.

“We hope that the deployment of the frontline personnel can be expedited to help Penang in this critical moment,” he said, after a meeting with Penang Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow, here today.

Apart from that, he said among the initial steps taken was to approve 10 additional intensive care unit (ICU) beds at the Kepala Batas Hospital, and consider building a field hospital near the Penang Hospital.

Khairy added that to assist frontline staff at public hospitals, he had been informed that private hospitals would increase patient reception capacity, especially COVID-19 patients.

Khairy said he had obtained the consent of private hospitals to add 300 beds, but his ministry would like to ask for an additional 1,000 beds for COVID-19 patients.

“Because right now, bed capacity for COVID-19 patients in private hospitals is 87 per cent while ICU use is 117 per cent … so we will ask them to use the existing capacity to add more capacity they can take (COVID-19 patients).

“MOH has the power to require the private hospitals (to do so) provided that they are still not forthcoming with more capacity … but I don’t want to get to the point where we have to require them. We still talk to them to get them to provide the required capacity because there are patients who can afford to obtain private hospital treatment,” he said.

In the meantime, Khairy said that the MOH was planning to provide oxygen saturation detectors or oximeters to all, especially young people who are in categories 3 and 5, who are at high risk.

He said the number of cases involving young people related to cases of hypoxia, which is a complication of low oxygen content, is increasing, and is a silent killer.

“Among the efforts is that we will increase the provision of blood oxygen detectors to those at high risk, where the initial signal of hypoxia is a fast heart rate.

“I also request for budget calculations to be carried out immediately so that we can provide an oximeter donation to families who need it,” he said.


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