COVID-19: Brunei bars entry for visitors from Iran, Italy

James Kon

The Ministry of Heath (MoH) yesterday announced that travellers, including transit passengers, who have been to Iran and Italy within 14 days before arriving in Brunei Darussalam will not be allowed to enter the country.

The restriction is similar to visitors arriving from the Chinese provinces of Hubei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang with exception to citizens and residents of Brunei.

The MoH revealed that as of March 4, all regions in the world affected by COVID-19 virus were placed in four categories.

Category A has countries that showed continuous transmission of COVID-19. This includes mainland China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.

Category B includes countries that showed limited transmission of the disease but where big clusters have been reported. This includes France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR (China), Japan and Singapore.

Category C includes Macau SAR (China), Malaysia (except Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan), Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (US) and Vietnam where local transmissions were reported.

Category D includes other affected countries that reported isolated cases.

Members of the public are advised to avoid making any non-essential travels to regions listed in Categories A,B and C. At the same time, the public are also advised to avoid travelling out of the country during the upcoming school holiday.

However, members of the public who travel outside the country are advised to take precautionary measures and maintain personal hygiene to avoid getting infected. This is especially important for high risk individuals like those with chronic diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease and cancer), senior citizens and smokers.

Citizens and residents of Brunei who returned from Category A countries are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the country. Self-isolation means avoiding participation in activities involving the public, not leaving the house or receiving visitors except to seek medical treatment.

For information on self-isolation, contact the Disease Control Division of the MoH at 2380316 or 2380318 during office hour.

Anyone who arrived from regions in Category B and C will need to carry out self-monitoring without the need of self-isolation. Self-monitoring means monitoring the health of oneself for 14 days and if there are symptoms of fever or infection like dry cough or breathing complication, they are required to get checked at health centres.

The MoH will continue to update the lists of countries in the categories from time to time. Updates can be obtained by contacting Health Advice Line at 2381380 and 2381383 during office hours or log on to www.moh.gov.bn/SitePages/COVID-19.aspx

The MoH reassured that Brunei is currently free from COVID-19.

The two Brunei nationals evacuated from Wuhan on February 8 have completed their quarantine on February 22 and are in good health without any symptoms of infection. Laboratory tests for COVID-19 were conducted and were found to be negative.

As a precaution, the public is advised to avoid contact with sick animals, including livestock and birds; refraining from the consumption of raw or poorly-cooked meat; avoiding close contact with people who are unwell or showing signs of illness such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath; maintaining a high level of personal hygiene; washing hands frequently with clean water and soap or hand sanitiser (especially before handling food, before eating, after using the toilet or when coughing or sneezing); and wearing medical masks when exhibiting signs of a respiratory infection such as coughing or a cold.

The public is advised to cover their mouth with tissue when coughing or sneezing and to immediately dispose it in a bin. They are also urged to seek immediate medical attention if unwell or show signs of infection.

The ministry will continue to maintain high level of preparedness and work closely with World Health Organization (WHO) as well as neighbouring countries to control the situation. Members of the public are urged not to panic.