Almost 100 private hospitals agree to treat Covid patients

KUALA LUMPUR – The Ministry of Health (MOH) has received a huge boost in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic when 95 private hospitals agreed to help the government treat the patients, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

“We only began holding engagement sessions with the private sector on Jan 23 and we found that 95 out of the 130 hospitals have the capability to treat COVID-19 patients and have agreed to help out. Thus far, we have 1,286 beds, including 65 in the intensive care unit, 54 ventilators as well as assistance from 66 medical specialists.

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“We also used the Emergency Ordinance, which allows experts, staff and assets, such as the supply of medicines, to be moved from one hospital to another, either between private hospitals or between private and public hospitals,” he said during a COVID-19 briefing held virtually today.

Dr Noor Hisham also said that the Emergency Ordinance was very useful in forging cooperation with private hospitals, especially when there are emergency cases.

He explained that the Emergency Ordinance empowered the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) in facing the pandemic, which is no longer limited to certain localities and which is now spreads more sporadically compared to clusters.

Reduce overcrowding

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham also pointed out that when the country’s healthcare system was at a breaking point earlier this month, an alarm was raised to ensure there was sufficient hospitals available to cater to the COVID-19 patients.

He said the integration and collaboration between private healthcare providers and public hospitals that is now taking place could reduce overcrowding.

“Our strategy is to reduce the (number of) cases. Now, we have enough rooms to cater to the patients. We hope that in the next two weeks, we can reduce and stabilise it. The plan is to mitigate the situation, control the situation, and then hopefully healthcare will be back to normal again,” he said.

In the meantime, Dr A. Maheshwara Rao, a senior official on disaster management at the MOH, who also participated in the online briefing, said the MySejahtera application was created to raise awareness about COVID-19 cases, including notifications regarding positive cases nearest to the user.

He explained that the notification was not to put fear in users, but to provide a reminder and awareness on the importance of personal care and standard operating procedures (SOP) wherever they may be.

“In fact, when there is a case near the user, the matter is spread on Twitter and other platforms. This, to me, is a sign that the community is sensitive to cases near them,” he said, adding that the app would be updated in the next 72 hours.

He advised the public to update their personal information and activate the push notification to view the latest information and announcements, adding that the app had been downloaded by 27,313,193 users involving 1.5 million registered business premises.

Programme to eradicate Covid-19

Meanwhile in are related development, The Community Empowerment Committee meeting has agreed to introduce the COVID-19 Eradicating Agent Programme (ABC-19) nationwide to curb the threat of COVID-19.

The National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), in a statement said, the programme would be implemented through community and volunteer leaderships using the ‘whole-of-society-approach’.

“This programme will involve government agencies, non-government organisations and the communities using a training module which is being developed and will be implemented simultaneously nationwide.

“It is estimated that there are over six million community members have the potential to be mobilised, empowered and be held responsible to help eradicate COVID-19 in the communities,’’ said the statement.

According to NADMA, the meeting, which was held virtually this morning, was jointly chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof and Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali

It was also participated by the secretaries-general of various related ministries and state secretaries.

The meeting also agreed that all ministries and agencies used all mediums to mobilise the communities to safeguard their respective communities without a stringent enforcement by the government.

“The commitment of all parties is very critical in the effort to break the COVID-19 infection chain through this method of empowering communities,” said the statement.

Competitions cancelled

In view of the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in almost all Asian nations, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have today decided to cancel a number of competitions this year to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders, especially the safety and health of Asia’s youth players, due to the uncertainty and risks involved in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is also in line with world football governing body FIFA’s decision to cancel their Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup tournaments this year.

Among the AFC competitions that have been cancelled are the Under-16 and Under-19 championships scheduled to be held in Bahrain and Uzbekistan respectively.

Bahrain and Uzbekistan will now host the 2023 editions of both these championships. At the same time, Bahrain will also host the AFC U-17 Asian Cup and Uzbekistan the AFC U-20 Asian Cup in 2023.

The AFC have also decided to cancel the 2020 AFC Futsal Championship in Kuwait and the 2021 AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup in Thailand.

Both the Kuwait Football Association and the Football Association of Thailand will host the next editions of the two tournaments in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

“We are grateful for the support of the hosts for these competitions, who agreed with the AFC on the need to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders during this time of uncertainty and taking into consideration the risks of the current pandemic,” AFC secretary-general Datuk Windsor John Paul said in a statement.

The AFC have also rescheduled the qualifying rounds for the AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup 2022 and AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup 2022.

The first round of the Under-20 qualifiers has been moved from March to Aug 14-22 and the second round of the qualifiers from August to Nov 3-7.

The first round of the Under-17 qualifiers has been switched from April to Sept 18-26 and the second round of qualifiers from September to Dec 8-12.