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Brunei
Saturday, August 20, 2022
33 C
Brunei
Saturday, August 20, 2022
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    Border re-opening depends on number of critical cases

    Izah Azahari & Azlan Othman

    The re-opening of cross-border travel via land and sea on August 1 depends on the number of patients in Categories 4 and 5.

    This was said by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar during yesterday’s daily press conference. He said this is one of the crucial conditions that the COVID-19 Steering Committee will monitor to ensure the healthcare capacity is not affected.

    The minister explained that if the number of individuals with fever or are infected with COVID-19 are only in Category 1 or 2, the healthcare system will not become strained.

    Following the ceasing of antigen rapid test (ART) and self-isolation for fully vaccinated travellers coming into the Sultanate, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said that those who have paid for ART kits for travel can write to the ministry via email to revenue.finance@moh.gov.bn.

    The minister said individuals will have to attach documents such as the Arrival Declaration Form (ADF) and payment receipt in the email to be refunded.

    The minister also touched on scheduled ARTs in schools, saying the requirement covers teachers and workers at the school.

    File photo of a traveller at the Sungai Tujoh Control Post.

    “This is a precautionary measure to ensure that if there is anyone found positive, they can isolate themselves at home early,” he said.

    Meanwhile, the public hailed the move to open the land border on August 1 after more than two year hiatus, allowing them to meet family members separated since the beginning of the pandemic, and to go on vacation across the border.

    Sarawakian businessman Jeffrey, who regularly crosses the border to the neighbouring towns prior to the pandemic, said it is a good move to enable Malaysians residing and working in the Sultanate to return home via affordable travel to meet their family members after more than two years away, as well as for Bruneians to meet their relatives across the border.

    “Bruneians have not been travelling and crossing the border since March 2020, when the border was closed. Now they can look forward to cheaper vacation across the border, and those with relatives in Miri, Lawas and Limbang can visit their families,” Jeffrey said.

    “However, prices of goods in Miri have risen. For instance, fried kuey tiaw with egg costs MYR9.50, while five kilogrammes of cooking oil costs nearly MYR50. Even a bunch of banana costs around MYR15 now,” he added.

    Meanwhile retiree Vincent from Sabah, residing in Brunei, said he felt relieved after more than two years.

    “I can finally go back. But I hope that there will no burdensome procedures, otherwise it will take hours to reach Limbang,” he said.

    Also touching on the rising prices, he added, “Inflation is affecting not just our region, but also globally. Everything is expensive now across the border.” Echoing these sentiments, entrepreneur Haji Halim said the public should not rush to cross the land border when it re-opens. He said that the total charges to cross the border plus health insurance coverage will hinder family outings.

    “Medical expenses overseas are very expensive, so travellers are advised to purchase insurance policies prior to travel,” he said.

    Meanwhile, with a family of three, Suzie said she could foresee long traffic queues at the Sungai Tujoh checkpoint in Belait District and called on the public to plan their journey in advance to avoid getting stuck.

    Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah at a press conference on Thursday said cross-border travel via land and sea is planned to fully open beginning August 1, subject to the current COVID-19 situation in the country and regionally, as well as the operational readiness of control posts. Non-essential travel via land and sea is still not permitted until July 31.

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