As Malaysia’s emergency physicians, critical care specialists, intensivists and public health physicians, we urge the Government of Malaysia to act now to control the COVID-19 outbreak. Our window of opportunity is closing rapidly, and we must quickly implement an all-of-society strategy.
Our strategy must have two objectives: to reduce the total number of cases, and to spread them out over a longer period of time (“flattening the peak”). This will allow us to conserve and allocate limited resources - for example, front-line emergency department staff, intensive care beds, ventilators and health inspectors performing contact tracing - in more sustainable and fairer ways.
If the total number of cases are high and they happen all at once, Malaysia’s hospitals will be overwhelmed. We do not want Malaysians to undergo the recent Italian experience, where a sudden surge in new cases caused chaos and agonising life-and-death decisions in an overwhelmed health system.
Therefore, we urge the Government to:
Together with the Health Ministry, we are reallocating existing resources to cater for a possible surge in cases. We are also mobilising additional resources from colleagues in the private sector, civil society organizations and other stakeholders.
If we implement social distancing now, we can reduce the total number of cases and distribute them over a longer period of time. This will protect against suffering and allow us to save more Malaysians by allocating our resources more effectively and fairly.
BERKHIDMAT UNTUK NEGARA.
16 March 2020