MoH well prepared to face Covid-19 case increase in Sabah

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by TMR FILE

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) is ready to face the possibility of an increase in Covid-19 cases in Sabah.

Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry is confident that the outbreak could be controlled and mitigated, and there’d be no need to postpone the state election as of now.

He added that the ministry has been preparing all the necessary measures for the possible increase in Covid-19 transmission cases in Sabah.

“Among the steps taken are providing extra beds in hospitals and preparing several locations that can be turned into quarantine centres.

“So far, 251 beds are placed at Lahad Datu Hospital, while 401 at Tawau Hospital and 40 at the Kunak Hospital,” he said in his Covid-19 press conference yesterday.

Apart from that, he said Tawau has a few locations that can be used as quarantine centres, namely the Tawau Teaching Institute which houses 720 beds, Palm Inn Malaysian Palm Oil Board in Lahad Datu (118), Malaysian Islamic Training Institute (160) and Felda Friends (76).

Dr Noor Hisham added that Kunak offers 100 beds at the Kunak Religious Secondary School dormitory, as well as 15 beds in an orphanage and 12 additional beds in the state government house.

In Semporna, he said the Ria Rakyat Housing Programme can accommodate up to 180 beds.

As of yesterday, the country recorded 82 new Covid-19 positive cases, involving 72 local transmissions and 10 import cases.

Dr Noor Hisham said of the local cases, 60 cases were from Sabah which were mostly from the active clusters in the state.

The increase in new cases yesterday brought the country’s overall total to 10,358.

There are now 665 active Covid-19 cases that are being treated at health facilities nationwide.

Among the active cases, nine were placed in the intensive care unit, with two of them requiring respiratory aid.

Meanwhile, 168 patients were discharged yesterday, increasing the total recovered cases in the country to 9,563, which equals to 92.3%.

No new deaths have been recorded, as the country’s death tally stands at 130.

Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry has identified another new Covid cluster in Semporna, Sabah, called “Bangau-Bangau” cluster, which has now infected five individuals.

He added that the cluster was detected as a result of screening patients at Semporna Hospital.

The five cases, namely the 10,340th until the 10,344th cases were detected positive on Sept 21, involving four locals and one foreigner.

“All of them did not show any symptoms and were admitted to Semporna Hospital for further treatment. As of 12 noon yesterday, 97 individuals were screened.

“Of that number, 92 individuals are still waiting for the results of their screening,” he said.

To date, there are seven clusters that are still active in Sabah and the Benteng Lahad Datu cluster is one of the largest clusters that have infected up to 624 individuals.

As for the rise of Covid-19 cases lately, Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry is expecting an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia over the next few months.

He highlighted that countries like Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are also seeing a rise in infections.

“We are seeing an escalation in cases in other countries even before the winter season. We are worried about the next couple of months,” he added.

However, he said compliance with the standard operating procedures and physical distancing will break the chain of infection.

Additionally, Dr Noor Hisham said the negotiation process to obtain a Covid-19 vaccine is still ongoing, but even if the country gets one, this won’t mean the battle against Covid-19 has ended.

He stressed that even though the country has obtained the vaccine, the practice of physical distancing and wearing of masks has to continue.