KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia saw 135 Covid-19 deaths on Thursday (July 8), its highest since the pandemic started, and a spike in new daily infections to 8,868.
This came as the health authorities announced more beds, equipment and staff to prop up a healthcare system at risk of collapse.
The new infection figure – up from 7,097 on Wednesday – marks the second-highest daily number since the country hit 9,020 cases in May.
Selangor and Kuala Lumpur recorded the most cases, at 4,152 and 1,133, respectively.
There was also a record of 952 patients in intensive care.
The total number of infections nationwide is now 808,658, while the death toll stands at 5,903.
The surge in numbers came as the religious authorities announced on Thursday that mosques in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan – excluding areas under the tightest form of lockdown – will be allowed to reopen from Friday for congregational prayers, but with a limited capacity ranging from 12 to 300.
For those in areas under the country’s enhanced movement control order (EMCO), only three congregants are allowed for prayers.
Meanwhile, healthcare staff at several hospitals have been infected with Covid-19.
Thirty staff including doctors, nurses and cleaners at Hospital Sultan Abdul Halim in Sungai Petani, Kedah, have been infected with the virulent Delta and Beta strains of Covid-19, according to Malay-language daily Harian Metro.
With daily figures continuing to rise in the last few days despite a nationwide lockdown, Health Minister Adham Baba on Thursday announced several reinforcements for Klang Valley hospitals. This includes setting up more intensive care unit (ICU) beds, field hospitals and low-risk treatment centres, as well as provision of oxygen tanks.
The Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, Selangor, was reported to have put at least 10 patients on temporary canvas beds outside its emergency department on Wednesday after apparently having run out of beds.
Klang MP Charles Santiago uploaded photos on his Twitter account showing patients lying on camp beds outside the hospital’s emergency department.
He said in a letter to the health minister on Thursday that the government should consider using halls or budget hotels as quarantine and treatment centres to provide a more comfortable place for patients in Klang.
The Health Ministry said it will send 60 more beds and additional equipment costing a total of RM1.1 million (S$356,000) to the hospital, while the military will set up a field hospital there with 50 beds.
It will also work with private hospitals and employers to set up more low-risk Covid-19 quarantine centres and assessment centres.
It is also adding more ICU beds at several other government hospitals, as well as 1,550 oxygen cylinders for patients at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang quarantine and treatment centre in Selangor, the worst-hit state in Malaysia.
A total of 2,400 additional beds will be set up at a Health Ministry training institute in Sungai Buloh, Selangor.
The Tuanku Mizan Army Hospital in Kuala Lumpur will now treat Covid-19 patients requiring oxygen and intubation.
volunteers from the Red Crescent Society will be mobilised to care for children while their parents are treated for Covid-19 in hospital.
Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah warned on Wednesday that the healthcare system was at risk of collapse amid persistently high daily caseloads.
Hospitals in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and the Federal Territory of Labuan have exceeded bed capacity for Covid-19 patients, he said in a statement.
“If this situation persists, the health system in those states will be paralysed and, in turn, a similar situation for the whole country is likely to occur,” he said.