Brunei free from viral pneumonia

James Kon

Amid global concerns of an unknown viral pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued a statement, reassuring that Brunei Darussalam presently has no cases of severe acute respiratory infection linked to the events in Wuhan.

“The Ministry is also in close contact with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries around the region, including China, to monitor and assess the situation,” said the MoH in its statement.

On January 3, Chinese health authorities reported that 44 individuals had come down with fever, shortness of breath and other symptoms consistent with a respiratory infection known as pneumonia, the cause of which is still unknown.

“At present, there is limited information to determine the overall risk of this event and it’s potential for international spread,” the MoH stated further.

“While awaiting further information on the laboratory and epidemiological investigations, the MoH continues to maintain high vigilance to prevent, detect and respond to any severe acute respiratory infection, or other disease that has the potential to become a public health emergency of international concern.

A health surveillance officer uses a device to check temperature of passengers near the immigration counters at the Hong Kong International Airport. PHOTO: AP

“The national surveillance system routinely covers influenza, influenza-like illnesses, and all other severe acute respiratory infections.

“The WHO does not recommend any trade or travel restrictions to affected areas, or any specific measures for travellers.”

As a precautionary measure, members of the public are advised to avoid contact with sick animals, including poultry and birds; don’t consume raw or undercooked meats; avoiding close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness; and to observe good personal hygiene and frequent hand-washing with soap, particularly before handling food or eating, after going to toilet, and after coughing or sneezing.

People are also encouraged to wear masks if exhibitibing respiratory symptoms such as a cough or runny nose, and to cover their mouth with a piece of tissue when coughing or sneezing. The soiled tissue should be disposed of immediately in the rubbish bin, and prompt medical attention must be sought if feeling unwell.

According to international news reports, as of January 7, there were already 59 individuals affected by the mystery virus in Wuhan, China.

Working alongside the WHO and neighbouring countries, the MoH will endeavour to provide public updates, where necessary.

For further information, contact the Darussalam line at 123, or visit the MoH website at www.moh.gov.bn.