KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's health chief Noor Hisham Abdullah has warned that hospitals in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Labuan have exceeded their maximum limits in treating Covid-19 patients, and could see their services paralysed if cases show no sign of abating.
Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement on Wednesday (July 7) that data from the Health Ministry showed that the capital and the other three areas had an average of more than 37 daily cases per 100,000 and an average 2.6 per cent increase in infections for the past week.
"If this situation persists, the health system in those states will be paralysed and in turn, a similar situation for the whole country is likely to occur," said the health director-general.
Several other areas reported new cases which exceeded 12.2 cases per 100,000 people, namely Melaka, Putrajaya, Sarawak and Pahang.
The country is also far off its threshold target of 4,000 cases daily, in order to exit from a full lockdown and move to the next stage of its national recovery plan.
The national average of daily cases currently stands at 6,539 for the past week, Dr Hisham said, citing official data.
He explained that the 4,000 case threshold was set based on the hospitals' capacity to handle unforeseen situations, and the rate of ward admission and discharge.
"Even more worrying is the trend of Covid-19 cases being admitted to the intensive care units (ICU), which remains at a high level," he noted.
Admissions to ICU have not shown substantial decrease since June 6, with more than 90 per cent of ICU beds occupied.
As of Wednesday, a total of 948 cases were in intensive care.
Dr Noor Hisham warned that medical workers were suffering from burnout after being at the front lines since the pandemic began early last year and having to deal with thousands of cases every day.
He said that the Health Ministry will mobilise more health workers from states that have eased their lockdown restrictions to those states that are "Covid-19 critical" and to help step up vaccination activities.
The ministry is also taking measures to increase capacity, such as converting some hospitals in the Klang Valley into full Covid-19 hospitals, and increasing beds in quarantine and treatment centres that treat lower-risk patients.
Non-Covid-19 patients will also be directed to the private hospitals.
Malaysia recorded 7,097 new cases on Wednesday and 91 deaths. The total number of infections is now 799,790 and the death toll at 5,768.
Meanwhile, an enhanced movement control order (EMCO) will be imposed from July 9-22 on several localities in Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Johor, Kelantan and Sabah, The Star reported on Wednesday.
This was due to the high number of Covid-19 cases, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob was quoted as saying.
"The implementation of this enhanced MCO is to control the movements of residents in all localities involved as well as to curb the spread of Covid-19 to other areas," the minister said.
"It also aims to help in detecting cases so that they could be isolated as fast as possible as well as to carry out effective contact tracing."
The EMCO would cover the entire Seremban district in Negri Sembilan, the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park staff quarters in Kuantan, Pahang, among other places, said The Star report.
Most states in Malaysia are under an indefinite lockdown, which was imposed on June 1 and extended indefinitely last Monday.
Six states, however, moved into phase two this week after the government evaluated the thresholds in daily case numbers, intensive care bed capacity, and vaccination rate separately according to each state's population ratio.