Is Brunei doing enough to prepare against COVID-19?

With the current situation of COVID-19 affecting almost all countries, is Brunei Darussalam doing enough to educate and prepare its citizens and healthcare providers?

Having regular updated information regarding the changing situation would enable us to make informed decisions and gain knowledge.

Are policy decisions made according to the situation, especially with regard to health and hygiene practices, detection, diagnosis, testing, quarantine periods, visit and foreign work entry visas as well as flights in and out of Brunei?

Given the unfolding events, vigilance and preparedness should be of the highest priority, to protect Brunei citizens.

Singapore has put a number of measures in place and Brunei should take similar measures to both inform and safeguard its citizens.

File photo of workers from the Korea Pest Control Association, wearing protective gear, prepare to spray disinfectant to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus at a market in Seoul. PHOTO: AFP

Singapore’s policies are constantly changing and these include updating healthcare practitioners, setting guidelines for hygiene practices for the public, informing the public what to do in the event of becoming unwell, guidelines on quarantine periods, length of incubation period, limiting and banning both visitor and work visas for people entering from high risk areas such as China and South Korea.

Singapore and Malaysian ministries have also agreed to exchange information such as national advisories and public messaging on the virus. They have stated that collaboration is important, given the high volume of travel between Singapore and Malaysia.

The United Kingdom (UK) has also put a number of measures in place, such as banning and reducing flights, instructing the public that people with flu like symptoms, a cough or fever should not go to a doctor for fear of spreading the virus but should rather contact the emergency number provided.

Brunei should consider increasing vigilance, through the limiting and banning of travellers and work visa exclusions for people travelling from high risk areas.

It would also be prudent to cancel or postpone any mass international gatherings and conferences such as those held at hotels where foreign delegates often attend. These mass gatherings and conferences could act as breeding grounds for the spread of the virus, in Singapore.

Authorities should broadcast of best practices for hygiene care and information for the public on what to do, should they become unwell.

They should also provide healthcare practitioners with the latest information regarding diagnosis, testing, extended incubation periods and quarantine practices as well as collaborate with neighbouring countries to stay updated on the latest findings, treatments and practices.

Although there are currently no confirmed cases in the Sultanate, given the rapid global spread of this virus, as well as the impact on neighbouring countries, Brunei would be wise to heighten vigilance and preparedness in order to protect its citizens.

A Concerned Resident