236 Brunei students return from Egypt

Lyna Mohamad

Royal Brunei Airlines (RB), the country’s national carrier, safely brought home 236 Bruneian students from Cairo, Egypt yesterday morning.

Fauziah Fakhrunnisa binti Haji Jopry/HM Mujiburrahman, a Syariah Islamiyyah undergraduate in her fourth year, said, “As a student representative in Egypt, I am very grateful to the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for caring for his people during this (COVID-19) pandemic. The efforts put in to get us back are greatly appreciated.”

She said the students in Egypt were briefed on the arrangement to bring back local students overseas in advance, so they had time to prepare for the journey home.

“Our embassy in Cairo prepped us so well that we know what to expect while travelling during this time,” she said.

On the situation in Egypt, Fauziah said all schools have been suspended to curb the spread of COVID-19, and classes are now conducted online and exams postponed to May 31.

She shared that 51 Malaysians, who have been allowed travel with Bruneians, will be joining the remaining 131 students and eight of their family members in the next RB flight.

A total of 236 local students in Egypt were brought back by national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines yesterday morning. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

Meanwhile, Mohd Zakwan bin Haji Mohd Salleh, a third year student in Takhassus Al-Quran Wal Qiraat at Al-Azhar University, applauded the government’s efforts in ensuring the safety

and health of local students overseas by arranging for their return home.

He, who had chosen to carry out his two-week self-isolation at a hotel, also thanked the Brunei Embassy in Cairo for their dedication and commitment in keeping him abreast with the news and prioritising the students’ well-being above theirs.

“The embassy gave us clear instructions to follow, such as self-quarantining 36 hours before the trip. No one was allowed to leave their home for reasons other than buying basic necessities. Even that outing was restricted to one person at a time.”

Fellow student of Al-Azhar University Nur Faizah binti Mohamad Khairol Azmi also acknowledged the efforts made in bringing students home safely.

She is the deputy head of a medical team in Cairo, formed by Bruneian students to assist fellow Bruneian students during their studies in the Egyptian capital. All members of the team have background and experience in delivering first aid with most having been Red Crescent members in high school.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the team has been sharing important information on their message board and WhatsApp group as well as providing guidelines on the proper way of washing hands and putting on face masks and gloves.

The team has also placed hand sanitisers in the lobby of Residence of Brunei Darussalam Students in Cairo as well as preparing protection kits, comprising gloves, face masks and disposable bags provided by the Brunei Embassy in Cairo and the Brunei Students Council in Cairo, for students prior to their flight home.

Syahirah @ Syakirah binti Haji Othman, who is a first-year student of Arabic Language, expressed her gratitude to the government for coordinating with the national carrier in bringing back local students abroad.

Prior to her trip, she said, “We were told to self-quarantine to ensure all students were in good health. We were also advised to tend to our own luggage.”

Syahirah said the students were asked to select their choice of self-isolation and she had opted to spend the next 14 days at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Girls Arabic Religious Secondary School.

Meanwhile, Haji Awang Muhammad Hasif bin Haji Awang, a fourth year undergraduate in Syari’ah Islamiah at Al-Azhar University, also thanked the government for providing him with the opportunity to return home to avoid being infected by the coronavirus in a foreign land.

Alhamdulillah, Bruneian stu-dents have been provided with two flights to return home,” he said, adding that the embassy had made sure the whole process was smooth sailing by continuously monitoring them while briefing them on the latest development regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.