COVID-19: Five found positive in preliminary tests

James Kon

Brunei Darussalam has recorded five more presumptive cases of the highly contagious COVID-19 infection.

The new presumptive cases include a 61-year-old man and his 30-year-old son.

Both had been travelling together with the 53-year-old man who was announced as the country’s first presumptive case after testing positive in a preliminary test for COVID-19.

The other three include the first patient’s 46-year-old wife and their two sons aged 12 and five. The two children have special needs and did not attend school in the last few weeks.

The five patients are reported to be exhibiting symptoms of coughing and flu. They are in stable condition, with no signs of fever and do not require breathing support.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at the press conference. PHOTO: SIM Y H

All of the samples from these cases have been sent to the World Health Organization (WHO) Reference Laboratory in Singapore for further testing. These latest developments were announced by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Jaafar, in a press conference held yesterday evening at the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Al-A’fiah Hall.

The minister said, “The 53-year-old local man is a pensioner who travelled to Kuala Lumpur with three friends on February 27 to attend a Tabligh (religious event) at the Jamek Sri Petaling Mosque which was also attended by around 100 people from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. He then flew from Kuala Lumpur to Miri via Air Asia AK5651, and returned to Brunei Darussalam on March 3. The man then went on a day trip to Miri, and stopped at the Kampong Sungai Teraban Mosque for the Friday prayers.

“That night, he showed symptoms of the infection and was rushed to the Emergency Department of the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital on March 8, for treatment. A nasopharyngeal swab for the COVID-19 test was taken. He also suffers from a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. He has been placed in the National Isolation Centre in Tutong since March 9, after initial laboratory tests returned positive.”

In view of these findings, the minister is encouraging those in the Kampong Sungai Teraban area to contact the MoH, if they are feeling unwell.

“Our ministry will continue to carry out contact tracing, and further action will be taken according to the available guidance which is based on scientific proof. Close contact is defined as those residing in the same house with a confirmed case, or were in proximity of less than one metre for 30 minutes or inside a enclosed area. Therefore, the risk of infection from transient or casual contact such as a brief meeting on a public transport for is assessed to be low-risk,” said the minister.

The MoH has also learned that around 90 Bruneians were at the same religious event at the Jamek Sri Petaling Mosque in Kuala Lumpur on February 28 until March 3. They returned to Brunei Darussalam using different flights.

Several of these people have been successfully traced. The remainder are required to contact 2381383 or 2381380 during office hours or Darussalam hotline at 123 (after office hours) to obtain guidance and advice.

In a question-and-answer session, the minister urged those travelling by air to provide honest information in the health declaration form. “The first patient failed to declare his state of health, so the doctor [treating him] had to be traced and quarantined. The doctor’s tests came back negative. Currently, there are 22 individuals in quarantine,” he said. The MoH has also issued a statement, urging the public not to panic on the increasing number of recorded cases, as contact tracing is still being carried out. “Currently there is no wide spread of infection among the local community and the situation is under control.

“Those who were at the gathering and have symptoms of infection such as fever, coughing or breathing problems should immediately head to the Flu Centre of the RIPAS Hospital, which is located in front of the Emergency Department.

“Once again, the MoH is asking the public to postpone any unnecessary travel to affected countries. This is to tighten the control of imported cases into the country, as we know that there is definite human-to-human transmission of the disease. The MoH is seeking for public cooperation to act responsibly and avoid spreading any information that is misleading and untrue, as well as to respect the privacy of the patient and his family members.” For updates, visit the MoH website at www.moh.gov.bn/SitePages/COVID-19.aspx.