KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — The Health Ministry (MOH) has reminded those intending to visit Langkawi Island under the tourism bubble pilot project to always practise the new normal and continue to adhere to the standard operating procedure (SOP).
In an effort to find a balance between public health safety and economic survival, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah urged everyone to play their role to ensure no surge in COVID-19 infections will occur at the island resort.
“Your cooperation is very much needed,” said Dr Noor Hisham in his Facebook posting.
On Sept 9, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Sukri announced that domestic tourists who fulfil the SOP criteria nationwide, including states in Phase One of the National Recovery Plan (PPN) are allowed to visit Langkawi Island beginning Sept 16.
Following this, Dr Noor Hisham said the MOH through Kedah State Health Department was increasing the capacity and preparedness of the Sultanah Maliha Hospital (HSM) in facing the possibility of a spike in COVID-19 cases on the island which may require hospital and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions.
HSM is a hybrid hospital providing treatment for COVID-19 patients with 79 beds and another 142 beds for non-COVID-19 cases.
Dr Noor Hisham said with the setting up of the Langkawi COVID-19 Low-risk Treatment and Quarantine Centre at the Langkawi International Shooting Range Malaysia (i-PKRC LISRAM) last Aug 4, 60 additional beds have been provided to treat Category One, Two and Three low-risk patients.
“As for the ICU, eight additional beds were repurposed, making the total to 13 beds and of the number, nine are reserved for COVID-19 patients,” he said.
In addition, other departments at HSM, among them the Emergency and Trauma Department, Pathology Department, Medical Transfusion, Paediatric Department, Forensic Department and the Hemodialysis Unit are all ready should there be an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“Through discussions with HSM and the Kedah Health Department, several improvement proposals have been given, including setting a threshold value for daily patient admission rate, as a warning so that specific pro-active steps can be taken.
“This includes the need for additional ICU and non-ICU beds for COVID-19 cases, mobilisation of health workers and assets from other districts or states, patient evacuation via air transportation to the referring hospital and the setting up of PKRCs operated by the private sector,” he said.