The public lauded the installation of antigen rapid test (ART) kit vending machines, believing it would improve accessibility to tests, halt price increases seen in retail outlets and prevent panic buying.
The government revealed 15 locations for ART vending machines on Saturday which dispense boxes of 25 kits per purchase.
ART kits have been used as the main form of screening for COVID-19 since the start of the third wave of outbreaks in the country.
Speaking to the Bulletin, Effy A applauded the initiative, saying it is a good move from the government.
She said it makes the kits more accessible for the public, as they are “quite difficult to come by”.
Effy added, “Hopefully with the vending machines, vendors are less likely to take advantage of the public by setting unrealistically high prices on ART kits.”
Another member of the public, Hakim Omar, believed the move to make ART kits available through vending machines to be “brilliant”.
He said while a minority would consider it to be a threat to other sellers, accessibility and stabilising prices are more important.
“It is not about profit, but rather about the matter of public health,” he said.
Members of the public also hope that the number of vending machines will be increased.
Bobby, who believed the vending machines increase accessibility while limiting human contact, hoped the authorities have a steady supply.
He also believed the cost of ART kits could still be considered expensive for those with lower income, especially for those working in the private sector, who are often told to pay for their own ART kits.
He hoped that the service will be available in more rural areas.
At the moment, the majority of vending machines are located in Brunei-Muara District, while Belait, Tutong and Temburong have one vending machine each.Anne from Kuala Belait hopes to see additional vending machines are put up in the district and at secure locations, where personnel are present to prevent vandalism.
One example is shopping centres, where people can pick them up on the way to shop or work.
“Places like Sungai Liang and Labi or the Sungai Liang Post Office are also good locations for a vending machine.“And let’s hope that the sale of individual kits will be made available soon as not everyone can afford to buy in bulk,” she said, adding that the service is very much needed.
The vending machines only accept exact change in the denominations of BND1, BND5, BND10 and BND20.
In Brunei-Muara District vending machines are available at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital OPD Shuttle Bus, the Women and Children’s Centre (WCC) Shuttle Bus and external car park; Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Sports Complex and Faculty of Science (FOS); BIBD Connect Lambak; Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC); Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre (PJSC); DST; Brunei International Airport public car park payment counter area; Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas; and the Ministry of Health headquarters.
In Tutong District, the vending machine is located at Hua Ho Petani Mall; Pengiran Isteri Hajjah Mariam Hospital in Temburong District; and Suri Seri Begawan Hospital in
the Belait District.