As the number of cases in Malaysia spiked by 153 to 1,183, Penang saw its highest daily increase of 13 cases today, taking its total to 50. So far, just one of those 50 has been discharged.
It is not looking that good.
The Ministry of Health has prepared 3,400 beds in 26 designated hospitals for coronavirus cases across the country. Of these beds, 20% are occupied.
These hospitals also have 300 spaces for coronavirus ICU cases, of which 18% are occupied. If these get full, the hospitals will use isolation wards as they have 925 ventilators available (though they say they need 500 more ventilators).
The ministry should immediately start preparing for a lot more normal beds, ICU beds and ventilators – and medical staff. If possible, rope in private sector specialists too for “national service”. No time to lose.
How I wish the government had heeded the NGOs’ pleas over the years for more than 2% of GDP to be allocated to public healthcare. (Another 2% is spent by private hospitals.) We should have been spending 6-8% of GDP on healthcare. Instead, we were distracted into promoting medical tourism, which worsened the brain drain from government hospitals to the private sector.
It is also so unfortunate we had a change of government at this time. People can see for themselves how the unaccountable “backdoor government” is bumbling its way through.
The military can play a useful role in making available its medical resources as well, should the need arise.
Meanwhile, a check with a large private pharmacy on the mainland revealed it is still waiting for stocks of protective masks and alcohol-based sanitisers, though non-alcohol sanitisers are available.
How are you coping with the pandemic? Let me know.