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COVID-19: Health Ministry ropes in 33 hospitals with over 3,000 beds

KUALA LUMPUR (March 24): The Health Ministry has designated a total of 33 hospitals nationwide, to treat COVID-19 patients.

With this, up to more than 3,000 beds will be available in at normal wards and intensive care units to cater to those infected with the virus, Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pictured) told the media at Putrajaya today.

"We have identified 26 hospitals, plus seven university hospitals, and, hopefully, they can manage and have beds for COVID-19 patients, as well as ICU beds for them," Dr Noor Hisham said, reported Malaysiakini.

"In doing this, we have postponed elective operations (at the hospitals), and referred patients from Covid-19 hospitals to non-Covid hospitals, and some to the private sector (healthcare facilities) as well.

"By doing so, we free our beds. For example, at Sungai Buloh Hospital, we managed to create 1,350 beds."

Noor Hisham also revealed that nurses quarters at hospitals are also being used as temporary wards “for stable COVID-19 patients so that the normal wards can be reserved for those who need urgent and critical medical attention”.

The ministry is also ready to convert training institutes into hospital wards.

"We cannot build a hospital in 10 days, but we can convert the training institutions to wards. By doing so we can create more beds," he said.

As for manpower, Bernama reported that the ministry has also identified some 3,000 contract nurses and medical officers to help it deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry had the names of those to be called to serve.

“… we are in the process of hiring and they will be placed in the areas according to their expertise," he said.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government had agreed to set aside an additional allocation of RM600 million to the MOH to combat COVID-19.

Of the total, RM500 million is to purchase medical equipment, such as ventilators, essential intensive care unit (ICU) equipment, extra personal protection equipment (PPE) for general medical staff and laboratory equipment for screening of COVID-19.

The remaining RM100 million is for the MOH to appoint 2,000 new staff on a contract basis, especially nurses.

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