PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The Malaysian Health Ministry has issued a directive on Thursday (May 20) for private hospitals to increase their beds in wards and intensive care units (ICUs) to treat the escalating number of Covid-19 patients that has overwhelmed government hospitals.

“All private hospitals currently treating Covid-19 patients must increase more beds to treat these patients. This involves more beds in the wards and ICU.

“The maximum number of beds to be allocated for Covid-19 patients is based on the capacity of the wards and ICUs.

“The allocation of the beds must be in accordance with the capabilities of the private hospital and must not affect the quality of healthcare given to patients,” health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a letter dated May 20 to the private hospitals. The letter was posted by the Health Ministry’s Private Medical Practice Control Section Twitter account on Thursday.

The letter highlighted that more than 70 per cent of ICU beds in government hospitals nationwide have been used up. The situation is more dire in the central region, where Covid-19 patients have occupied more than 100 per cent of the ICU beds.

Hospital beds in general wards are also 70 per cent to 90 per cent occupied.

There are a total of 1,388 ICU beds in 78 government and teaching hospitals nationwide, out of which 850, or about 61 per cent, have been set aside to treat Covid-19 patients, Dr Noor Hisham said last week.

Malaysia on Thursday recorded 6,806 new coronavirus cases, the biggest daily jump in infections. It was the second straight day of record infections after 6,075 new cases were logged on Wednesday.

The country also registered the highest daily deaths of 59 since the pandemic started last year.

The sudden surge of Covid-19 cases in Terengganu and Perak has forced the government to impose a 14-day enhanced movement control order (MCO) in dozens of districts there. The tightened measures announced on Thursday will kick in on Saturday.

The National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, is set to meet on Friday and discuss whether to impose a full lockdown throughout the country – akin to the one imposed between March and May last year.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan said the matter would be assessed and decided on by the Covid-19 NSC meeting in Putrajaya.

“A full-scale MCO is among measures to be considered by the NSC and this will be discussed before any decision is made.

“All mentris besar and chief ministers will also sit in the 3pm meeting, ” he told reporters, after the Kelantan State Special Security Committee meeting chaired by Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob at Kota Darulnaim Complex on Friday.

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