MoH revises risk categories of COVID-19 travel

James Kon

In view of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has revised the risk categories of countries affected by the coronavirus as part of its ongoing containment measure.

The public is advised to refer to the ministry’s website for the latest update on the list of risk categories.

According to the ministry, Brunei Darussalam continues to deny entry to travellers, including transit passengers, from Chinese provinces of Hubei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Italy. Meanwhile, citizens and permanent residents, who have been to these regions within the last 14 days of returning to the country, are required to undergo 14 days of self-isolation.

The update also saw members of the European Union (excluding the United Kingdom) and the Islamic Republic of Iran being added under the highest risk category for showing evidence of sustained community transmission.

Members of the public are advised to defer non-essential travel into these regions. Those who must enter these regions are advised to maintain good person hygiene, wash hands with soap and water regularly or use a hand sanitiser (especially before and after meals, after using the toilets and after coughing or sneezing), wear a mask if feeling unwell, avoid contact with ill individuals or those showing respiratory symptoms, and seek urgent medical attention if experiencing symptoms.

On their return from Category A regions, these individuals are required to undergo self-isolation immediately including being in a separate bedroom and avoid contact with other occupants. They are also advised to avoid public activities during this period and watch out for signs of symptoms such as fever and respiratory difficulties. Should these symptoms be present, they are to seek medical attention immediately and provide the healthcare practitioner with their travel history.

Countries or areas that have joined Hong Kong (China) , Japan and Singapore in Category B, which have limited transmission potential of the virus, are Malaysia, United States of America and the United Kingdom. While members of the public are advised against taking non-essential trip to these regions, individuals are expected to practise self-monitoring of their health upon return to the country.

New additions to Category C, showing evidence of local transmission, are Indonesia and the Philippines; the category previously comprised Macau (China), Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Similarly to Category B, individuals are advised against taking non-essential travel to these regions and are asked to practise self-monitoring of their health upon return to the country.

Category D comprises countries or areas that show no or isolated cases. The ministry has not placed a travel restriction on these regions. However, all members of the public who are planning to travel abroad are advised to take precautionary measures and maintain good person hygiene to avoid getting infected. This is especially important for high-risk individuals such as those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease and cancer, senior citizens and smokers.

For more information, members of the public can visit the ministry website at www.moh.gov.bn or contact its the Health Advice Line at 148.

File photo shows passengers at an airport in China. PHOTO: AP