Cluster hospital concept introduced to combat Covid-19 pandemic

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

KUALA LUMPUR: The use of facilities, expertise, services and human resources of private hospitals, clinics and laboratories by the government has begun to ease the burden placed on the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the outsourcing and acquisition of healthcare resources was necessary in view of the surge in Covid-19 cases and the national health system having almost reached a breaking point.

In this context, one of the key issues in the implementation of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 allowed healthcare services to be temporarily outsourced to private service providers, he said.

In line with the outsourcing, the cluster hospital concept would be expanded to include other hospitals, such as university hospitals, army hospitals and private hospitals, to be used for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

“Private hospitals will operate as cluster hospitals in the public sector under the Integrated Covid-19 Control Centre,” he said in a special message aired on national television channels and social media platforms today (Feb 4).

“The MoH is also collaborating with 31 private hospitals to outsource treatment for some non-Covid-19 patients with an allocation of RM27 million,” he said.

On the management and treatment of Covid-19 patients in private hospitals, the MOH had obtained the cooperation of private hospitals nationwide and, as of Feb 3, the private hospitals planned to provide 1,344 beds in normal wards and 65 in the intensive care units.

“In addition, government and private laboratory facilities are also being mobilised to increase the capacity for Covid-19 screening. A total of 68 government and private laboratories in the country have the capacity to carry out 76,805 screenings daily,” said the prime minister.

Through the Emergency Ordinance, the government will also begin to take over facilities for the purpose of adding Covid-19 screening and quarantine centres. For the outsourcing and acquisition activities, a form of compensation will be given to owners of these premises based on the evaluation by the government.

Meanwhile, 16 former National Service (PLKN) and Kem Wawasan had been temporarily taken over and used as detention and quarantine centres for illegal immigrants and temporary prisons as an immediate action to reduce overcrowding in Immigration detention centres and prisons.

Muhyiddin said that in a bid to enhance the government’s enforcement action, directives had been issued to delegate police powers to the Malaysian Armed Forces to make arrests, inspections and seizures during operations against illegal immigrants and on prevention of Covid-19. 

“I have also instructed the more than three million Rela (People’s Volunteers Corps) members nationwide to assist in the task of enforcing the standard operating procedure (SOP) at business premises and public places.

“The government will also implement a Community Empowerment Programme involving local community leaders in the Covid-19 prevention campaign at the community level,” he said. – Bernama