Brunei among top 50 places to live during COVID-19

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam is in the top 50 globally in terms of the safest places to live during the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed a study by Deep Knowledge Group in late August, a consortium of companies and non-profits owned by Deep Knowledge Ventures, a Hong Kong-based investment firm.

It indicated that the Brunei authorities’ whole-of-nation approach, strong leader, a very committed population and the involvement of everyone in Brunei managed to curb COVID-19 spread.

The study was made out of 250 nations and territories in a survey that looked into quarantine efficiency, monitoring and detection as well as emergency preparedness. Brunei has 145 cases and three deaths at present.

In the United Nations (UN) preparedness dashboard of Southeast Asian countries for COVID-19 report published last July, Brunei Darussalam with a high development index (HDI) of 0.841 received a high score in health systems in ASEAN, especially in the provision of nurses and midwifery, and in second tier for physicians and hospital beds.

In the Deep Knowledge Group report, the top spot went to Germany followed by New Zealand and South Korea. Switzerland, which was first in June, has dropped to fourth place. The most dangerous nations are Somali, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Mali.

The report said the point is it is not so much whether a country has been hit hard by COVID-19 yet or not — although that does matter — but also whether there’s political will and social acceptance of quarantine and lockdown measures, whether the national and local governments cooperate well, if a nation has good monitoring and detection and a strong medical system and how vulnerable a country is to economic dislocation due to COVID-19, plus how well-equipped a country is to handle emergencies.

The Deep Knowledge Group first released a ranking of the safest countries for COVID-19 in June 2020. The think tank has updated its data and methodology and re-issued a report on the safest countries and regions.

“Deep Knowledge Group’s new COVID-19 special analytical case study is designed to classify, analyse and rank the economic, social and health stability achieved by each of the 250 countries and regions included in its analysis, as well as the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats or risks that they present in the battle against the global health and economic crisis triggered by COVID-19,” the group said.

Deep Knowledge Group stated that they looked at more than 140 parameters and considered more than 35,000 data points, both up significantly from June’s report.

Signs instructing visitors to conduct temperature check before entering at a shopping centre in Brunei Darussalam. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR