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Health Ministry Expects Spike In Covid-19 Cases By April, But They Are Well Prepared

Health Ministry Expects Spike In Covid-19 Cases By April, But They Are Well Prepared

Tasneem Nazari

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Despite the extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO), the Health Ministry (MoH) expects a spike in the number of positive Covid-19 cases April.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah explained that they anticipate an increase of over 6,000 cases by mid-April based on MoH’s observation of the disease and its spread so far, as well as a report published by research house JP Morgan.

However, flattening the curve of infection is crucial because it ensures that healthcare services can cope with the number of cases. 

For those who are still confused, “flattening the curve” means to slow down and prevent a sharp increase of infections so that the established healthcare systems will not be overwhelmed. (Credit: Wired)

We are hoping that with these efforts, we will be able to lessen the number of new cases and prevent it from reaching 6,000. That is our target. To flatten the exponential curve.

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham via Malaysiakini

Besides that, the ministry’s next priority is getting Covid-19 patients proper treatment in time, as this will increase their chances of being cured.

This was proven by the recent decrease in the number of cases in the ICU, which went down from 64 cases to just 45 cases in 24 hours.

To do this, MoH has prepared more than 5,200 beds and expects to increase the number of Covid-19 tests to over 16,000 a day. 

Increasing the number of Covid-19 tests to 16,000 a day

(Credit: CNN)

According to Dr Noor Hisham, currently, the Ministry has the capability of 18 MoH laboratories and five private labs that can test 6,000 samples a day. But they expect to be able to test more samples by next week.

By next week, we are expecting to be able to increase the capacity to 16,000 samples a day.

Dr Noor Hisham via Malaysiakini

This capacity of 16,000 is before the introduction of a new rapid test kit (RTK) currently being studied for use by the ministry. The kit will reportedly detect antigens – proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus in the human body, and be able to give results almost immediately.

This will enable them to perform mass testing and track down cases at a faster rate.

Currently, the ministry is using a test method called reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). This method relies on detecting the virus by the presence of its genetic material.

The RT-PCR method is more reliable but is also a much lengthier process. (Credit: cidrap)

It’s more reliable but tends to take much longer than an RTK.

This Friday we will see the capability of this RTK for antigen. If the RTK’s effectiveness is verified, then we can use this to detect (positive cases) more quickly and accurately.

Dr Noor Hisham via Malaysiakini

That being said, Dr Noor Hisham stressed that this RTK is not the same type of test kit that is currently being sold to the public today. That test kit detects antibodies – proteins produced by the body as an immune response to an infection – instead of antigens.

Over 5,200 hospital beds ready for patients

(Credit: cidrap)

So far, the ministry has managed to provide 3,400 hospital beds, and they target to be able to provide 300 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and ventilators. They have also increased the number of beds by another 1,892 at their medical institute facilities which can be used to admit patients who have mild to no symptoms.

This way, we can free the beds in hospital wards for more serious cases. So in total, we have 5,292 beds ready.

Dr Noor Hisham via Malaysiakini

In regards to the ventilators, they plan to prepare a total of 800 ventilators nationwide. 500 of these ventilators will be solely for Covid-19 cases.

Currently, the ministry has 526 functioning units. They have ordered another 229 more units, of which 54 have been received and the remaining ones are expected to arrive by the first week of April.

They have also borrowed 60 ventilators from private healthcare institutions.

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