Outgoing envoy praises Brunei’s COVID-19 response

James Kon

Outgoing Australian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Nicola Rosenblum praised Brunei Government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

This is Rosenblum’s final month in Brunei Darussalam.

“The Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam took precautions early, which saved lives in the country,” she said in an interview at the Australian High Commission in Brunei Darussalam yesterday.

“Sadly, there was a small number of fatalities. It is undeniable that the government’s efforts safeguarded the lives of the people in the Sultanate. Closing the borders, preventing the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing measures and adequate medical care for people diagnosed with the virus are commendable.

“His Majesty’s Government also carried out vigorous testing for the COVID-19 virus and testing for immunity in a serology survey test. It has been a very comprehensive response.”
Rosenblum said, “The question is what comes next for Brunei Darussalam, as we have seen so many countries struggling to contain the virus.

Outgoing Australian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Nicola Rosenblum. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“We also saw a small spike in one part of Australia. How long will the country keep its borders closed and how will Brunei respond if there is a second wave?”

On travel bubbles and green lanes, the outgoing high commissioner said, “A green lane is where a limited number of people can travel back and forth for limited circumstances, while a travel bubble proposed between New Zealand and Australia will allow freedom of travel for anyone without restrictions.

“In my opinion, I think both are good ideas, but countries will have to figure out what works for them. In the Southeast Asian region, it probably makes sense for Brunei Darussalam to have a green lane system with countries in which you have confidence about their ability to control the virus and their testing regimes.

“A travel bubble will be much harder, because you must have a higher level of confidence that the pandemic is under control within the country to allow people to move around freely.”