Sarawak hospitals sinking into dire straits

ICU beds all full. We are at ‘tipping point’.  

KUCHING: Intensive care unit (ICU) beds are currently fully occupied by Covid-19 patients across the state, said State Health Director Dr Chin Zin Hing.

In revealing this, he emphasised that no number of ventilators would be sufficient to combat the situation and that there was an urgent need to cut the Covid-19 transmission in Sarawak.

“The doctors are working very hard every day to turn over the ventilator or ICU beds so that the next patient that needs them can benefit from them. Without cutting the transmission, 10 to 20 percent of Covid-19 positive cases will need hospital admission and five to 10 percent will need ICU care. 

“Imagine if we have 1,000 Covid-19 patients — 10 percent of 1,000 is 100 patients and 100 ICU beds are needed.

“In Sarawak, we only have 53 ICU beds in four major hospitals. At the moment in all major Sarawak hospitals, we are running 92 ICU beds. All full! Remember, each bed, if taken up, will be used for at least 10 days on average,” he said in a statement issued yesterday (May 17).

Dr Chin stressed that the current Covid-19 situation in the whole country including Sarawak was “very bad”. 

He added that the state was in a crisis and strongly appealed to all members of the public to play their part in addressing the situation.

“It is a very critical moment now! Please assist us to cut the transmission as our healthcare settings are very overwhelmed. The situation we are in now is very different compared to one year ago. We are at the ‘tipping point’.  

“Please help us in our battle against the Covid-19 pandemic! I appeal to you all. I beg your kind understanding,” Dr Chin said.

He advised the people to take initiatives and practise five rules, namely:

●     Stay at home.

●     Stay within your family bubble.

●     If you have symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 or known to be exposed to a person or cluster, please get yourself tested so that you will not be a source of infection to your beloved family, friends or colleagues.  Remember, they have high risk family members at home.

●     Work from home if possible.

●     Practice SOPs at work — wear your mask at all times and do not eat together as eating together will require you to take down your mask.

Dr Chin also asked for understanding from the non-essential services’ part as well in view of the actions taken by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) in disallowing the operation of a number of services to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

“Ask not what your country or state can do for you but what you can do now for your country or state right now.

“The closure will be temporarily based on the situation in the state. All is not lost as we still allow takeaways. We really need to cut this transmission with everyone’s help now until the national and state vaccination programme is rolled out successfully,” he explained.