Brunei keeping an eye on new variant developments

Izah Azahari & James Kon

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is currently keeping an eye on the developments surrounding the newly detected COVID-19 from South Africa, B.1.1529, said Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at the daily press conference yesterday.

Based on the research findings so far, the minister said, the new variant is understood to contain multiple mutations, which could mean it could be more aggressive, or it could shorten its lifespan due to the number of mutations, thus killing itself as it spreads.

“It will take several weeks to analyse, and determine whether it is a variant of concern or simply a variant of interest,” said Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham. “The World Health Organization (WHO) is still monitoring its developments.”

The minister assured that the MoH is monitoring the situation to see if there have been any detection of the new variant in the region.

In the meantime, the MoH is waiting for more research findings from the WHO.

Meanwhile, the minister said Brunei Darussalam recorded no COVID-19-related deaths though 78 new cases were detected, bringing the national tally to 14,918.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at the event. PHOTO: JAMES KON

Thirty-eight of the cases are from seven existing clusters who were close contacts with several positive cases.

Two new clusters were also detected involving 11 cases, all accommodation clusters including CA Mohammad Bunut Staff House Cluster.

Meanwhile, 28 cases are under investigation to determine the sources of the infection.

The minister also announced the closure of three clusters – Cluster 7339, Cluster 12,401 and Cluster 12,602 – bringing the number of active clusters to 133.

The minister said 62 cases recovered today, bringing the number of recoveries to 14,342, adding that there are currently 477 active cases.

Four Category 5 cases are receiving treatment at the intensive care unit, all requiring artificial ventilation assistance, with one case requiring additional heart/lung machine (ECMO) assistance. One Category 4 case requires oxygen assistance and is under close monitoring, said the minister.

Over the past 24 hours, 3,771 samples have been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, bringing the number of laboratory tests conducted since January 2020 to 605,170.

Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (Policy and Management) at the MoH Dr Hajah Anie Haryani binti Haji Abdul Rahman was also present at the press conference.