Personal protective equipment can only last another 19 days

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic by TMR FILE

MALAYSIA has only 19 days of supply left of some items that form the complete personal protective equipment (PPE) used by medical frontliners to protect them from Covid-19 infection.

Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Ministry of Health (MoH) reported that the usage of PPE has risen 10-fold ever since Covid-19 hit Malaysia, and it is challenging for the ministry to ensure a steady supply.

“The global stocks for PPE, which is an essential item for frontliners, are depleting. We need to find ways of sourcing more stocks so we can stay ahead of the curve.

“Currently, we only have enough medical jumpsuits that will last through the Movement Control Order end-period, while the supply of other items is still adequate,” he said during his daily Covid-19 press briefing yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham added that there is still a lack of care in the usage of the limited PPE, including the unnecessary use of the full suit, in which a surgical mask and foot covers would be sufficient.

He stressed that this step is crucial, so that the efforts taken by the medical frontliners to contain the Covid-19 pandemic are not disrupted.

Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia is currently trying to source alternative N95 respirators from China after the US government has stopped the export to other countries.

“Previously, Malaysia was receiving a shipment of KN95 respirators, which is a Chinese equivalent of the US NIOSH N95 rating from China. We will try to order more of these to make up for the N95 imports.

“Since, the US has stopped exporting N95 masks, we are now looking to China to get the KN95 masks to use in the future,” he added.

He said in the event of the public donating PPE, the ministry encourages donors to contribute more supplies of respirators, as it is among the items, which is most needed now.

As of noon yesterday, the number of recovered patients yesterday surpassed the number of new cases reported, where 202 patients fully recovered from Covid-19, bringing the total recoveries to 2,478.

Malaysia also recorded five new Covid-19 deaths, pushing the total number of casualties in the country to 82.

There were also 170 new cases of individuals tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of infections to 4,987.

Meanwhile, 60 Covid-19 positive cases were being treated in the intensive care unit. Of the total, 33 were cases that needed help with breathing.

The latest deaths involved a 63-year-old man, a 65-year-old man, a 74-year-old woman, an 81-year-old man and an unidentified man who is believed to be a foreigner.

On the number of Covid-19 clusters, Dr Noor Hisham confirmed that the emergence of a new Covid-19 cluster in Sendayan, Negri Sembilan, making the total number of clusters in Malaysia at 28.

“However, most of these clusters are still small, compared to the Sri Petaling tabligh cluster which is still the largest at 39% to 40% of all cases.

“Regarding to the Sendayan cluster, 39 positive cases have been detected, including 13 students of a tahfiz school, a family of 11, and 15 members of a company’s board of directors,” he said.

He added that the ministry is looking to set up five additional labs to increase Covid-19 testing capacity. Currently, there are 43 labs in the country.

The new labs will be placed in Miri and Bintulu (Sarawak); Tawau and Sandakan (Sabah); and in Kluang, Johor.