At least one COVID-19 case of the XBB COVID-19 variant has been detected in Brunei through gene sequencing tests, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar said at a press conference yesterday.
The strain is less harmful than the Delta variant, with a 40-per-cent reduced rate of causing Category 4 or Category 5 symptoms, said the minister.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and share further development and information with neighbouring countries,” said the minister.
The XBB variant is a part of the Omicron family and was first known to spread in August and can be found in Bangladesh and Singapore. “With the rising spread of the variant in neighbouring countries and with the easing of travel restrictions, there was a high chance that the variant would enter the country,” said the minister.
Meanwhile, the rise in positive cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks is partly due to a decrease in immunity among the population, said the minister.
The minister said immunity to the COVID-19 virus decreases over time, and reminded those who had received vaccinations over six months ago to get a booster shot.
The minister said while there was a rise in the number of cases, the number of Category 4 and Category 5 cases are still at a minimum.
“Nonetheless, we must take precautions by following the SOPs put in place,” said the minister.