PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia has reported a 150 per cent increase in patient arrivals at its Covid-19 assessment centres (CACs) as the government speeds up its pace of vaccination in a bid to reach herd immunity by year end.
The assessment centres were set up to monitor Covid-19 patients undergoing home treatment. Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said that due to an overwhelming influx of patients, a new call centre will be set up to receive calls from those who are directed to CACs.
"The number of patient arrivals surged from 4,000 daily to 10,000 a day on June 5.
"The number of active cases under CAC monitoring has also increased by 108 per cent from 5,300 a day to 11,000 a day," he said in a statement on Wednesday (June 9).
He added that there has been an increase in cases referred for hospitalisation (step-up care), from nine to 35 for the May 23 to June 5 period.
Dr Noor Hisham said that with the strain on personnel at CACs in such a short period of time, the phone lines are frequently congested.
"The Health Ministry will set up a call centre to help receive calls from symptomatic patients to be channelled to a suitable CAC, field general inquiries concerning home quarantine, and channel emergency calls to Mers 999.
"For a start, it will be implemented in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, as these have the highest load of cases," he said.
Selangor has been Malaysia's worst affected state, with the most coronavirus cases. It recorded 2,291 new infections on Wednesday, the highest number in the country, followed by 704 new cases in capital Kuala Lumpur and 507 cases in Negeri Sembilan on the same day.
The ministry will also add phone lines at 33 CACs there to take more calls, he added.
To date, there are 198 CACs in the country, each having a team comprising a family medicine specialist, public health specialist, medical officer, assistant medical officer, nurses, and an assistant environmental health officer.
Dr Noor Hisham explained that CACs were set up to assess individuals who are confirmed to be positive for Covid-19 and to determine whether they are suitable to undergo quarantine at home, or have to be admitted to either quarantine and low-risk treatment centres (PKRCs) or hospitals.
"This initiative was able to reduce congestion in hospitals when the country was faced with a steep increase in Covid-19 cases.
"Category 1 (asymptomatic) and 2 (mild symptoms) patients were monitored by CACs, while hospitals focused on treating patients in Category 3 and above.
"The PKRC houses Category 1 and 2 patients who do not qualify to undergo isolation and quarantine at home," he said.
Meanwhile, the government has been speeding up the pace of its vaccination campaign with a new record of 154,866 doses dispensed on Wednesday. The number was the highest yet after it set a record on Tuesday with 151,309 people inoculated.
According to the latest data from the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV), Malaysia has so far dispensed 3,944,987 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine as at Wednesday.
Close to 4 per cent of Malaysia's 32 million population - a total of 1,220,939 of them - are now fully vaccinated.
National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Wednesday that the government will continue to ramp up vaccination capacity in the Klang Valley.
"The key now is to ensure we hit this consistently as we move towards 200,000 (doses) per day," said the JKJAV co-chair on Twitter.
The number of new Covid-19 infections nationwide on Wednesday increased again to 6,239 after dipping below the 6, 000 count for two days, according to Dr Noor Hisham.
The cumulative number of confirmed cases stood at 633, 891 as at Wednesday, with 3,611 deaths.
The country recorded 75 new fatalities on Wednesday, 23 of which occurred in Selangor, 18 in Johor, seven in Kelantan, five in Kuala Lumpur and Kedah each, three each in Sabah, Melaka, Negri Sembilan and Sarawak, two in Perak, and one each in Penang, Terengganu and Labuan.
Malaysia also reported 15 new clusters on Tuesday, 13 of which are workplace infections.