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COVID reports on Tamu Kianggeh are false: Minister

Izah Azahari

A viral message claiming 21 positive cases were detected in Tamu Kianggeh is untrue, said Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar.

The minister said in terms of contact tracing at the Ministry of Health (MoH), the cases from Tamu Kianggeh did not exist and the viral message was “transmitted to scare the public”.

“Such a matter is a violation of the law and can be prosecuted,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Home Affairs has been contacted to investigate the claim.

In probing the viral claim, the Bulletin visited Tamu Kianggeh and spoke to a representative from the Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department who said that the message first went viral on January 16, which claimed that there were 21 cases at the market that day and warned against visiting it.

The viral message then reemerged on January 21.

“We know that every Friday and Sunday, Tamu Kianggeh will receive up to 1,000 visitors,” said the representative.

Authorities screening visitors to Tamu Kianggeh. PHOTO: IZAH AZAHARI

He said the viral message is untrue, adding that the restrictions and standard operating procedures (SOPs) at Tamu Kianggeh set by the authorities since the start of the second wave in August 2021 has kept the environment at the market very controlled.

This includes permitting only individuals with the green or yellow BruHealth codes entry, temperature checks prior to entering the premises and all vendors testing for COVID-19 using antigen rapid tests (ART)once every week. There are 289 vendors at the market divided into two schedules – Monday to Thursday and Saturdays, and Fridays and Sundays.

“Alhamdulillah, so far the results from the ART tests have been negative,” said the representative.

“We also have a 500 capacity limit for visitors, so long lines are most common on Fridays and Sundays.”

The representative said supervisors constantly remind visitors to physically distance, especially at benches where there were often crowds. He said the BSB Municipal Department has already lodged a report to enforcement agencies, including the Royal Brunei Police Force.

“So far we have not found out who created the viral text, but the report has been lodged for further action,” he said.