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Brunei detects cases of Omicron subvariant BA.5

James Kon

Brunei Darussalam confirmed the presence of Omicron subvariant BA.5 in the Sultanate, following the latest results of gene sequencing tests for COVID-19 cases, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar announced at the COVID-19 press conference yesterday.

The discovery of Omicron subvariant BA.5 in the Sultanate was in addition to Omicron subvariant BA.4 announced at a press conference last week.

The minister said, “The increase in cases in recent weeks is most likely due to Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. The situation is similar to that in other countries. It is also expected that the increase will not burden our healthcare system.”

He revealed that the past week, the number of COVID-19 cases reported in the Sultanate has shown an increase where the number of cases detected averaged at about 920 cases per day.

Some 55,525 antigen rapid test (ART) results were uploaded to the BruHealth app within one week, of which 11.6 per cent were positive for COVID-19. “Although there is an increase in the number of cases, the number of cases in Categories 4 and 5 remained at a low level,” he added.

On whether the new cases are reinfected cases, the minister said, “As stated previously, a person once infected with COVID-19 can be infected again. At this time, it was found that some people who were infected had been re-infected.

“This may be due to the different variants of infection. Therefore, vaccination is important as it will reduce the severity of symptoms.

“What we understand from some countries and based on studies is that immunity will wane over time. Our covid-19 vaccination has already been carried out for over a year.

“Therefore, it is recommended for people who have yet to get the booster shot to get the vaccine, as well as those who have taken the vaccine over five months ago, especially those with non-communicable diseases, to get the next booster after five months,” the minister said.

Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health Dr Ang Swee Hui was also present.

The number of COVID-19 cases recorded in the past week. PHOTO: MOH