Coronavirus Malaysia

Doctors, hospitals under pressure amid flood of cases

Health workers donning personal protective equipment at a drive-through testing centre for Covid-19 in Shah Alam, Selangor, yesterday.
Health workers donning personal protective equipment at a drive-through testing centre for Covid-19 in Shah Alam, Selangor, yesterday. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SEREMBAN (Negeri Sembilan) • For months now, Dr Michael (not his real name) has had to put on personal protective equipment for up to three hours a day whenever he visits Covid-19 patients recuperating in his ward.

And having to do this four times a week has been truly exhausting, he says.

"It's no fun putting on an astronaut-like suit for hours a day. We even have to plan for when we should go to the toilet or have a sip of water. We pray every day that this pandemic will end and this can only happen if people start treating it more seriously," he said.

Dr Michael said that spending between 12 and 15 hours a day in the Covid-19 ward is tiring and emotionally draining, especially if his team has to attend to patients in unstable condition.

He expressed hope that the people would know how serious the Covid-19 situation is, with some hospitals nearing full capacity.

In a related development, Health Minister Adham Baba said Covid-19 patients who have mild or no symptoms will undergo treatment and quarantine at home, but will be strictly monitored by health workers.

The home quarantine applies to level-one and level-two Covid-19 patients - codes for those who have tested positive but shown no symptoms or mild symptoms, Bernama news agency reported.

"We are doing this as we need to act fast in treating and isolating positive cases and, to this end, the Ministry of Health will continue with contact tracing in efforts to flatten the Covid-19 curve," Datuk Seri Adham said after attending the ministry's New Year mandate ceremony in Putrajaya.

He said level-one and level-two patients will be quarantined at home for 10 days, and a screening test will be conducted on them on the last day.

The government has formed a task force at the Crisis Preparedness and Emergency Response Centre level, besides state and district levels, to monitor patients being treated at home.

"The screening test will be done in their respective homes, and if the result is negative, they are free from Covid-19," Dr Adham said.

He said that Health Ministry staff will assess the size of a patient's home and its number of occupants before allowing the patient to undergo treatment there, adding that if the place is small or crowded, the patient will be taken to hospital.

Dr Adham said public hospitals will now be giving priority to level-three cases - patients with pneumonia - besides level-four patients, who have inflammation in the lungs and require oxygen.

Level-five patients, who are in the late stages of the illness and require ventilator support, are also priority patients.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2021, with the headline 'Doctors, hospitals under pressure amid flood of cases'. Print Edition | Subscribe