Local cases nearly doubled as new cluster found

A new cluster dubbed “Cluster Immigration” has been found involving four new cases, making it Brunei’s seventh cluster as COVID-19 cases continue to surge with 54 new cases being reported on Wednesday, all of which are local transmissions, the Minister of Health said.

Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, Health Minister, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar said that the four cases have been connected to Case 423, a case that was reported the day before and had a previously unidentified origin of infection.

The minister believed that the cluster was borne out of one positive case who was found to visiting the service counters of the Department of Immigration and National Registration in Kuala Belait and Bandar Seri Begawan branch on 31 July 2021.

Image: Shutterstock

“Due to this, anyone who has gone to the aforementioned counters on that day and at this point has signs of infection is advised to immediately seek treatment and perform the SARS-CoV-2 testing at the national swabbing centers,” he continued.

Meanwhile a slew of today’s cases have been connected to clusters that were announced throughout the past few days, with 25 cases to the Chung Hwa Kuala Belait Cluster, eight cases the Semporna Enak Cluster, three cases to the Al-Falaah Cluster and one case to the TOTAL Cluster.

The minister added that cases connected to the Al-Falaah Cluster have been found to also be connected to cases at the Freda Radin School, hereby designating this cluster as the Al-Falaah-Freda Radin Cluster.

The remaining 13 cases have unknown origins of infections, continued the minister adding that cases in these active clusters are individuals who are undergoing quarantine after being found to have contact with several positive cases that were discovered prior.

Contact tracing for all these new cases is in full swing and all identified close contacts will be instructed to undergo mandatory quarantine and SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing.

The minister also announced five cases have recovered, bringing the total number of recovered cases in Brunei to 319 cases and as such, Brunei currently has 172 active cases that are currently undergoing treatment.

During the question and answer question with the media, YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham mentioned that the ministry is looking into setting up a second virology laboratory in order to increase the country’s capacity in COVID-19 testing.

“The main centre to test for COVID-19 samples is the virology laboratory in Jalan Sumbiling at the capital. Last year, the testing capacity was 100 samples a day but then we built an extension, it enabled us to test 1,000 samples in a day,” he said.

The current capacity of the virology lab stands at 2,000 samples a day but the minister believed that this may not be enough and in line with this, the ministry is hoping to build a second lab with a testing capacity of 5,000 samples per day.

“Hopefully with these two running we can test up to 8,000 samples per day which can help us control the situation fast,” he added.

In the past 24 hours, a total of 2,535 samples have been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus which brings the total number of laboratory tests conducted from January 2020 to 162,599.

Vials labelled “AstraZeneca, Pfizer – Biontech, Johnson&Johnson, Sputnik V coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine” are seen in this illustration picture taken May 2, 2021. Image: Reuters

Vaccines; the most effective measure

In light of the recent developments, YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham went on to announce that the MoH will be expanding the capacity of the National Vaccination Program to ensure that vaccination coverage amongst citizens and residents in the country is increased immediately.

He called on members of the public who have yet to be inoculated with the vaccine, especially high-risk individuals such as the elderly and those with chronic diseases to reserve a vaccination slot as soon as possible.

The Vaccination Centre at the Learning Development Centre of the Suri Seri Begawan Hospital in Belait will be extending its operating hours effective Thursday, 12th August 2021.

Monday to Thursday, Saturday: 8am until 8pm
Sunday: 8am until 2pm

Meanwhile the Vaccination Centre at the Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Hospital in Tutong will be moved to the Seri Kenangan Hall in Tutong Town effective Saturday, 14th August 2021.

The Ministry of Health will also be making preparations to start a vaccination programme catering to pregnant women soon, therefore any expectant mothers that have not registered for their antenatal care at the Maternal Health Clinic are advised to do so as soon as possible.

He went on to remind those who are undergoing quarantine or isolation and has reserved a vaccination slot to cancel their reservations and to reserve a new appointment through the BruHealth application or by calling the Health Advice Line 148.

Reactivation of the COVID-19 Relief Fund

With the consent of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the COVID-19 Relief Fund has officially been activated, announced Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister of Finance and Economy, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah.

During the press conference, he shared that the fund will be used to assist the government, especially the Ministry of Health to secure essential COVID-19 medical equipment and that organisations and members of the public who wish to make contributions to the COVID-19 Relief Fund can do so by donating online via Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam to:

COVID-19 Relief Fund
Current Account No: 1010070123


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