Malaysia reports record 199 Covid-19 deaths; authorities free hospital space for more patients

The cumulative number of deaths now stands at 7,440. PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia reported 199 deaths on Wednesday (July 21), the highest number of fatalities in a single day since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The previous highest daily toll was 153 on Sunday.

While health authorities have said the majority of infections recently were classed as low-risk, the country has been charting a rising number of daily deaths.

Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said the cumulative number of deaths now stands at 7,440.

Over 46 per cent of Wednesday's reported infections are from Selangor, at 5,550. Kuala Lumpur recorded 1,174 cases, out of 11,985 nationwide.

Last Saturday, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham said that 54.6 per cent of the 12,528 new Covid-19 cases recorded that day were asymptomatic while another 43.6 per cent showed only light symptoms.

In a bid to ease pressure on occupancy rates in wards, all non-Covid-19 patients currently being treated at public hospitals in the Klang Valley are to be transferred to private hospitals to make space for severe Covid-19 infections, following a government directive.

The letter from the Health Ministry dated Tuesday was addressed to Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) president Kuljit Singh, according to the Malay Mail news website.

"We are happy to help, and at the moment, many patients have been decanted since last night. The process is very smooth. Our aim is to help the government to create more space for Covid-19 patients at their facilities," Dr Kuljit was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

The letter stated that the cost of treatment for patients transferred to private hospitals will be absorbed by the government up to a certain amount.

Meanwhile, Deputy Health Minister Noor Azmi Ghazali said that recent cases where allegedly empty syringes were used during Covid-19 vaccinations might have been due to fatigue among health workers.

"If they are tired but keep going, they will be unproductive at work and not be at their best," he was quoted as saying by Utusan Malaysia on Wednesday.

He was commenting on allegations of empty syringes being used during vaccinations. Three incidents are presently under police investigation.

Disciplinary action has been taken over a recent case involving a drive-through vaccination centre in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

The government has been under pressure from the opposition and the public over its handling of the pandemic this year.

A group called Sekretariat Solidariti Rakyat (SSR) is calling for Malaysians to take part in an anti-government street protest on July 31.

The group is calling for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to resign, for a full parliamentary session to be held, and for automatic bank loan moratoriums to be given to everyone during an ongoing nationwide lockdown.

The call comes four days after the group staged a flash mob at the capital's Independence Square last Saturday, which featured black flags and the effigies of dead bodies.

Police fined three organisers RM2,000 (S$645) each for breaching pandemic regulations that prohibit demonstrations.

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