Minister calls for public support in COVID-19 fight

James Kon

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar has sought the cooperation and commitment of everyone in Brunei Darussalam to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Currently, we believe that we can contain this and to be on the right path, we need everyone’s commitments. It is not only the job of the Ministry of Health,” he said during a press conference yesterday.

“If you continue to go to mass gathering in hundreds or still travel abroad, no matter how many staff we have or how much money we spend, it will all be useless. The worst scenario is to lockdown the country and we don’t want to go to that stage.”

During the conference, questions were raised on the description of mass gathering, in which the minister explained, “There is no specific definition for mass gathering to refer to. Different countries have different numbers. In Brunei Darussalam, it should be as minimum as possible, so around 30 to 50 people are preferable. You must have hand sanitisers and access to hand wash.”

The minister also shared the ministry has received over 200 calls on Friday to inquire about mass gathering. He said the ministry is considering the possibility to take in volunteers to help with the process.

“There will be a time when we will ask for volunteers and we are working on how best to do it. I am sure when the time comes, we will need volunteers, especially in logistics and contact tracing.”

“The Health Advice Line call centre has seen an increased number of calls, and we may need to train volunteers on answering the calls. Yesterday, we received a total of 223 calls and mostly inquired on mass gathering, travel advisory and flu vaccine which doesn’t help against COVID-19,” the minister said.

He also acknowledged that nursing students from Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah (PAPRSB) Institute of Health Sciences of Universiti Brunei Darussalam have been mobilised to help in normal wards.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar during the press conference. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI