Next two weeks crucial, says Minister of Health

Izah Azahari

As Brunei Darussalam reached the 28th day in a row without recording any new COVID-19 cases, a question was raised at the press conference at the Ministry of Health (MoH) yesterday, whether there would be more easing of restrictions during the de-escalation plan in the next few weeks.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar said although Brunei Darussalam has gone past two incubation periods without any further outbreaks, neighbouring countries within the region are still dealing with the pandemic. He added that although the spread of the coronavirus outside Brunei Darussalam is in a controlled manner, those in the Sultanate must still be cautious.

“Brunei started the de-escalation plans, beginning with the reopening of schools aside from mosques, where the progress will be closely monitored the next two weeks, to see the outcome before moving on to stage two of the plan, which will see an increase in capacity within restaurants, schools and the like,” he said.

“We will announce it in more detail, when the time is near. But so far, what the public needs to know and remember is that we are still in a state of emergency in light of COVID-19, even though we reached the two incubation periods.”

He reiterated the need to be careful and, more importantly, the need to practise social distancing, where there is still a need to control mass gatherings.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham reminded restaurant operators involved in the preparation of food, as well as barbers and those in similar occupations to wear face masks. “It is more important, within this time frame, for these matters to be kept in mind as we wait out these two weeks,” he said.

“If we do not practise physical distancing or people who work in restaurants do not wear face masks, in case there’s another outbreak, it will spread quickly, so we should not be complacent.”

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham also emphasised on these two weeks as crucial, before moving on to the next phase.