The number of deaths in the first five months of 2021 is more than five times the number of deaths in 2020.
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There were 472 deaths in 2020 while 2,179 deaths were recorded in just the first five months of 2021. Those were the sobering facts shared by Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on his Facebook page last night.
“From May 1 to 29 2021 alone, there were 1,144 deaths from Covid-19. This is the highest monthly death case so far,” he added.
The difficult choice
As hospital beds fill and the number of bodies increases, the health practitioners are left to make tough decisions.
“When active cases of Covid-19 exceed our ability and capacity to treat, doctors will have to make the difficult choice to either prioritize ICU beds for patients with higher recovery potential or patients with lower recovery potential (poor prognosis).
“This is an implication that is not desired by any health worker, yet this difficult choice will have to be made when the health system reaches maximum capacity,” wrote Dr Noor Hisham.
ICU utilisation is at over 100%
In a Facebook post earlier this morning, he added that the number of Covid-19 cases admitted to the ICU, including those confirmed, under investigation, and pending results (suspected and probable) has reached nearly 1,200 cases. This is the highest number since the pandemic began last year.
Currently, in the first three weeks of May 2021, a total of 439 additional ICU beds have been made available.
In total, the number of ICU beds reserved for Covid-19 (for confirmed, suspected, or probable) patients has reached 1,114 beds.
He noted that most of the ICU beds are currently occupied by Covid-19 patients, leaving little room for non-Covid-19 patients who need intensive care.
“Although the number of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients has been increased, the ICU bed utilisation rate is still at a level in excess of 100%. This resulted in some patients having to be treated in regular wards,” wrote Dr Noor Hisham.
Field ICUs at Kepala Batas Hospital and the temporary acquisition of the Children’s Specialist Hospital at UKM are some of the steps that the Health Ministry had to take to increase the capacity of the ICU.
Dr Noor Hisham, as he always does, ended his post with a reminder for all to stay at home.
“Let’s stay home. If you have an important reason to go outside, make sure you follow the SOPs so that you and your family members are protected. Kita jaga kita”.