We must continue to stay vigilant despite zero cases

I would like to say that with the grace of Allah the Almighty, coupled with a blessed benevolent ruler, a strong leadership of our Minister of Health, dedicated frontliners, law-abiding citizens and a whole-of-nation approach, our country has successfully broken the COVID-19 chain of infection.

While the rest of the world is struggling to bring down infection rates to at least double digits, we in Brunei Darussalam have achieved zero infections for over a month despite being interrupted by a few isolated cases. Sadly, we have two deaths from COVID-19, both had history of chronic diseases.

It is not because of our small size and population that we have achieved this success. Instead, I believe that it is due to advanced planning and cooperation as well as excellent strategies that have made it possible. While the rest of the world adopted a national lockdown strategy to stop the pandemic, our country did not resort to such a harsh measure.

We have also been successful so far in hindering community spreads of the infection. This is due to our proactive measures by closing schools earlier, before the term break; introducing and emphasising on social and physical distancing; closing borders; mandating two weeks of quarantine for all travellers into Brunei; active testing for COVID-19 infections and prompt contact tracing of positive cases; increasing our healthcare capacities by building a new virology testing lab and a new extension to the National Isolation Centre (NIC) in Tutong; and now random testing for COVID-19 as a surveillance measure. The daily press conferences and question-and-answer sessions for the media and the sheer transparency of all active measures taken by the government, in particular the Ministry of Health (MoH), has helped the nation in working together to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

In spite of these successes, we as citizens must never be complacent. We must continue to be vigilant and adhere to advices made by the MoH. Remember to maintain personal hygiene with frequent handwashing, stay at home or wear a face mask when feeling unwell, and adopt to the new norm by practising social and physical distancing, and avoid mass gatherings and other crowded areas. Let us not forget that difficult few weeks in March when COVID-19 first came to the Brunei shore.

Watan Perihatin