Malaysia faces coronavirus outbreak among health workers as active cases hit all-time high

The Klang Hospital and the Serdang Hospital have suffered an outbreak among its workers.
The Klang Hospital and the Serdang Hospital have suffered an outbreak among its workers.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Major Malaysian hospitals are facing coronavirus outbreaks among healthcare workers and staff as the number of active Covid-19 cases hit a record of more than 15,000 on Friday (Dec 18).

The Klang general hospital and the Serdang Hospital, two major hospitals in the country's richest and most populated state, Selangor, have suffered an outbreak among its workers in recent weeks.

The hospital in Klang has seen over 50 staff infected by the virus, and the Serdang Hospital has registered 29 cases.

The Sungai Buloh Hospital, another key facility treating Covid-19 patients, reported 15 cases among its workers. And the Kuala Lumpur Hospital has registered 10 cases, according to the Health Ministry on Friday.

The hospitals collectively serve a densely populated urban area totalling over seven million people, encompassing both Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

The Health Ministry confirmed on Friday that a total of 1,359 coronavirus infections have been registered among healthcare workers since the third wave of the pandemic began in late September. On Friday alone, it reported another 43 infections among healthcare workers.

Another 1,697 healthcare workers are under a Home Surveillance Order, which puts them on home quarantine for at least 10 days.

"This drastic spike is believed to be closely linked to the increase in community transmission. However, the cases in all the hospitals involved are still under control and health services are being provided as usual," the ministry said in its daily update on the coronavirus situation.

It also said a majority of its healthcare workers picked up the infection through community transmission, and from other healthcare workers. However, 23 per cent of all reported infections involving healthcare workers are still under investigation.

The spike in cases involving healthcare workers comes at a time when Malaysia's total active cases hit an all-time high. The country recorded 1,683 new cases on Friday, bringing the total of active cases to 15,140.

Collectively, the Klang Valley areas of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, where the hospitals are located, recorded 889 new cases on Friday, more than half of the total recorded nationwide.

Malaysia's total number of cases also crossed the 90,000 mark on Friday. It has now overtaken China, where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported about a year ago. The total in Malaysia stand at 90,816.

The government also announced on Friday that it was extending the conditional movement control order restrictions for the Klang Valley and the state of Sabah to Dec 31. Both areas had been under partial lockdowns since Oct 14, as the infection rates showed no signs of abating.

Earlier this month, the government lifted travel restrictions, effectively allowing free movement, but some restrictions on the social sector and events remain.

Malaysia has so far recorded 432 deaths from the coronavirus. No new deaths were recorded on Friday. There are 106 individuals receiving treatment in intensive care units, with around half of them in need of breathing assistance, the ministry said.

On Tuesday, a nurse from the Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital in the state of Kelantan died from coronavirus-related complications, becoming the latest front-line casualty.

The ministry also revealed on Friday that nurses make up the largest group of healthcare workers infected with Covid-19.

A total of 690 nurses have been infected so far, along with 211 medical officers.