Representing the current and former co-chairmen as well as the Secretariat of the COVID-19 Steering Committee and the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof at yesterday’s press conference paid tribute to frontliners, grassroots leaders, government and private agencies, media, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), youth volunteers as well as citizens for overcoming the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The minister thanked the leadership of His Majesty in reminding us to continue to ask for help and pray to Allah the Almighty and practicing standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The minister said that the Sultanate had made early preparations in facing any threats to public health and thankful for the cooperation of all parties where the ‘Zero-COVID’ strategy resulted in 457 days without a case of COVID-19 between May 2020 to August 2021.
Since August 7, 2021 until today, he said the Sultanate has continued to see big spikes of COVID-19 cases in various variants and this has led to a change in strategy to “living with COVID-19”.
Various guidelines have been implemented to ensure the safety of the people, such as the National Vaccination Programme for COVID-19, BruHealth application, RT-PCR or antigen rapid test (ART), health SOPs, quarantine, recovery operations, COVID-19 Relief Fund, ‘work from home’, online Teaching and learning, the temporary closure of the borders and the opening of the Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Bridge.
The minister added, “The Covid-19 National Recovery Plan framework aims to implement restriction measures with minimal disruption to daily activities and help with the recovery of the economy and businesses affected by the pandemic.
“To deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, a COVID-19 steering committee was established, comprising an executive committee involving all ministries, co-chaired by three ministers and the National Coordination Center for COVID-19 (N3C19) was set up to help with logistics management.
“Under the committee there are eight task forces: education affairs; health strategy; food security assurance; welfare and wellbeing affairs; enforcement; business recovery; cross-border affairs; and media and public relations.
“Committee members meet continuously to formulate strategies and discuss measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
“The latest guidelines, announced through the Ministry of Health’s press conference, inform the public of the latest situation of COVID-19 and address any concerns and share information with the public.
“The control measures have slowly reduced resulting in the re-opening of mosques and schools.“
He added that grassroots leaders, private agencies, NGOs, youth volunteers and citizens always come together to help the government and foreigners.
The minister said the country has learnt new things and the pandemic has made the country better prepared to face challenges in the future.
He added that the Sultanate also feel sadness due to losing loved ones.
Despite all difficulties, he said, “Thanks to the help of Allah the Almighty and the joint cooperation of all parties, our country was able to address the challenges and look forward to continuing national development agenda, implementing national recovery and strengthening the economy”.
Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar and 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 were also present.