1. I refer to the alarming daily increase of cases in Penang and yesterday’s highest record number of covid cases to be reported so far.
2. Health experts are already warning of an impending full blown Delta variant covid wave to hit Penang, where the situation in Penang may worsen in the coming weeks and we may see an explosion of daily cases in the thousands similar to that of Klang Valley.
3. Already on the ground, my office is receiving daily reports from local residents asking for help on a range of problems - such as not having heard from KKM for days despite having tested positive for covid, the difficulty in calling for an ambulance to take sick patients to the hospital, and issues concerning lack of manpower from the health department to carry out enforcement duties concerning breach of SOPs. These are all signs that all is not well.
4. Undoubtedly, our state health department is currently already overwhelmed in overseeing operations in the Hospitals, PPVs, CACs, quarantine centres, contact tracing, testing, and enforcement work.
5. It is of utmost urgency for the federal and state government to take all actions necessary to brace Penang for a Delta Variant Tsunami and not be caught off guard when we are hit the hardest in the coming weeks.
6. It is therefore imperative for the federal government and the ministry of health to explain to the public, what measures have been taken to put in place emergency plans, which must be enacted now, to ensure that Penang will be fully prepared to face a full blown covid crisis in the coming weeks, and in particular to ensure that :
(a) The state health department and our hospitals will well-resourced and fully staffed with sufficient manpower (both medical and non-medical personnel) and medical equipment to deal with an impending covid crisis;
(b) There will be sufficient ICU and non ICU beds in our Hospitals to treat both covid and non-covid patients - According to MOH data, as at 1/8/2021, Penang has a total of 80 ICU beds with 67 (or 84%) of our ICU beds occupied with covid admissions. In this regard, we must take cognisance of the almost critical situation in Selangor whereby all of their ICUs across their covid designated hospitals are fully occupied as at 5/8/2021; and
(c) That the capacity of our quarantine centres for treating low risk covid cases (PKRC) will be increased to the level of preparedness to cater for the number of covid cases that may rise exponentially in the coming weeks.
Gooi Hsiao Leung
Penang State Legislative Assemblyman for Bukit Tengah