James Kon & Rokiah Mahmud
Brunei Darussalam yesterday recorded 15 new imported COVID-19 cases, arriving on the same flight from the United Kingdom (UK).
No new strains of COVID-19 were detected among them, said Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar during a press conference yesterday.
The minister also revealed that the new cases are part of a group of 81 people who arrived in the country from London on December 21, 2020, via Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) flight BI004.
“Case 165 started developing symptoms – a sore throat – on December 31, 2020, while the other cases did not have any signs of infection,” he said.
“All new cases are at the National Isolation Centre (NIC) for monitoring and treatment. Meanwhile, contact tracing for the new cases are still being conducted.”
Asked if more imported cases would be expected in the country in the coming days or weeks, the minister explained, “It will depend on the entry of people from abroad or the essential travellers permitted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
“We have procedures and systems that need to be followed, especially those who are in the high community spread,” he said, adding that “they will be isolated for 14 days, and undergo another swab test on their 10th or 12th day, in accordance with the procedures”.
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Haji Abdul Manap bin Othman was also present at the press conference.
The new cases bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in Brunei Darussalam to 172 cases, with 20 active cases receiving treatment at the NIC.
One imported case from India announced on December 30, 2020, was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), while the rest are in stable condition.
With the detection of the new cases, 31 imported cases have been confirmed. Since the last local infection reported on May 6, 2020, Brunei Darussalam has recorded 242 days without local transmissions.
Meanwhile, 572 individuals are undergoing mandatory self-isolation at government monitoring centres, after arriving from overseas. At present, 10,519 individuals have completed mandatory self-isolation at the centres.
In the past 24 hours, 233 samples have been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, bringing the total number of laboratory tests conducted since January 2020 to 83,775.
With the latest developments and the current global situation, the minister reminded the public not to be too complacent when observing social responsibilities. They are required to maintain personal hygiene, as well as proper coughing and sneezing etiquette.
The public – especially individuals at risk, like the elderly, pregnant women and individuals with chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney patients and respiratory problems – are recommended to wear a face mask in public places, including shopping malls, sales expos and sightseeing venues.
Members of the public are also advised not to leave home if feeling unwell and to avoid visiting crowded places.
As per the provisions under the Infectious Diseases Act (Chapter 204), the public is required to comply with all regulations and instructions in force during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For information, visit the MoH official website at www.moh.gov.bn or contact the Health Advice Line at 148 or through the BruHealth app.