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More admissions in some COVID-19 hospitals after interstate travel resumed: Malaysia health minister

Seniors who have been vaccinated with Sinovac will be offered Pfizer booster shots from Friday.

More admissions in some COVID-19 hospitals after interstate travel resumed: Malaysia health minister

Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. (File photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: There has been a growth in admissions for COVID-19 hospitals and quarantine centres in some states and federal territories after interstate travel was allowed to resume, said Malaysian health minister Khairy Jamaluddin on Thursday (Oct 21).

In a press conference, the minister referred to data graphs depicting COVID-19 patient admissions to public hospitals and Quarantine and Low-Risk Treatment Centres (PKRCs). 

“The graphs for Selangor and Putrajaya have started showing a rising trend after permission to cross state borders was given on Oct 11,” he said. 

“The same situation is seen in Sarawak, especially for Category 3, 4 and 5 patients after interstate travel was permitted,” Mr Khairy added.

COVID-19 Category 3 patients are classified as those showing symptoms and suffering from lung infection, while Category 4 patients require oxygen supplementation. Category 5 patients are classified as those in “critical condition with multiple organ complications”. 

In a tweet on Thursday morning, the minister indicated that admission rates were up by 22 per cent in the Klang Valley and 16 per cent in Sarawak in the past seven days. 

He noted during the press conference that COVID-19 infections at the national level has trended downwards. The same is also seen for bed occupancy and ventilator usage rates.

However, some states such as Sarawak, Kelantan and Selangor still showed intensive care unit (ICU) and non-ICU bed occupancy at above 60 per cent of capacity. 

Similarly, Penang and Perak still showed bed occupancy exceeding 50 per cent.

He said that the leading indicators in some areas, including Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, showed a worrying trend for hospital admissions and this is something that the health ministry will continue to monitor closely. 

Interstate travel was allowed to resume from Oct 11, following months of travel restrictions across the country to curb the spread of COVID-19.

A ban on interstate travel was first imposed in March last year when a nationwide lockdown was announced. It was lifted several months later in June when the COVID-19 situation improved, but reintroduced in early January amid a spike in infections. 

SENIORS VACCINATED WITH SINOVAC TO RECEIVE PFIZER BOOSTER JABS

During the press conference, the minister also announced that seniors who have been vaccinated with Sinovac will receive a Pfizer booster shot, starting from Friday.

“The Health Ministry has decided to extend the administration of booster doses to individuals who have completed the Sinovac vaccine at least three months ago, whereupon they will be given a heterologous booster dose of Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine,” Mr Khairy said. 

The heterologous booster dose will be administered as an “off-label” use and will be a part of the ministry’s real-world vaccine evaluation as well as adverse side effects studies, he added. 

The administration of booster doses for Sinovac recipients, the minister said, would be carried out in phases throughout the country, under private medical practitioners supervised by the Health Ministry’s ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd. 

A Nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for a secondary school student at a vaccine center in Shah Alam, Malaysia, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Eligible Individuals will be alerted on their appointments through their MySejahtera application, Mr Khairy added. 

Malaysia had already begun administering Pfizer booster doses since Oct 13 for those who had completed their Pfizer vaccinations at least six months ago, with frontliners, senior citizens above 60 years old and individuals with co-morbidities being prioritised. 

On Thursday, Malaysia logged 6,210 new cases. There are now more than 2.4 million cases nationwide, with over 28,000 deaths.

As of Wednesday, 71.2 per cent of the total population have been fully vaccinated while 94.2 per cent of the adult population have received both doses of the vaccine. 

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Source: CNA/vt

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