Malaysia is fast running out of ICU beds, needs MCO, says Health DG

There are only 734 beds in intensive care units (ICU) in the country, of which more than 500 are currently occupied due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this was one of the reasons why a third Movement Control Order (MCO) would be in place from tomorrow until June 7.

“If we don’t do this, then the health system would be overwhelmed. We could have as many as 1,700 cases in the ICU if cases continue to climb,” he said in the first joint press conference between the Health Ministry and Defence Ministry since the pandemic hit our shores last year.

“The MCO gives us time to prepare and lessen the load.

“ICUs in the Klang Valley are already at full capacity.”

He added it could have been a mistake to open social, education and sporting sectors in March, which he said, contributed to the rise in numbers.

“The second MCO did help in slowing down the spread of Covid-19. If we hadn’t done that, we would have had more than 5,000-10,000 daily cases,” he said.

“If we were to look at cases around the world, there was a marked increase in March and April – including in fatalities.

“This is partly due to the new variants of the virus.

“Perhaps we were too hasty in opening up the social, education and sporting sectors.”

Dr Noor Hisham said of the four variants – United Kingdom, South Africa, India and Brazil – only the Brazilian variant has yet to be detected in Malaysia.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said all ministries would activate hotlines to address enquiries from the public to address the confusion over the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the third MCO.

“Previously, it was just six districts in Selangor, and then Kuala Lumpur, which were under MCO.

“But now, the whole country is under MCO. Decisions on SOPs are discussed by all the ministries before it is brought to the National Security Council’s (NSC) technical committee,” he said.

“It is then presented to a special committee chaired by the prime minister and includes all heads of states and top government officials.”

He added all decisions are based on the advice of the Health Ministry.

“The SOPs are on the respective ministries’ websites, while the full list is on the NSC website.

“To avoid confusion, we have instructed all ministries to activate hotlines to address enquiries from the public,” he added.

Malaysia recorded 3,973 new Covid-19 cases today and 22 deaths, with 38,499 active cases.