Brunei has extended its Early Endemic Phase for one month, starting from 1 May 2022 until 31 May 2022.
The new development was announced by Minister of Home Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Awang Abu Bakar Hj Apong in a press briefing.
The minister also revealed that the COVID-19 Steering Committee has updated existing guidelines such as follows:
1. Civil servants including those working at service counters and as frontliners, regardless of their vaccination status except those with a purple BruHealth code, are required to return to work physically at their respective offices, starting Monday, 25 April 2022.
“Therefore, the private sector is also encouraged to carry out this guideline and further consideration is subject to respective employers,” said the minister.
2. Day Pass Protocol which is provided for Government officers and staff under red code to replace the requirement for quarantine with negative Antigen Rapid Test (ART) for five days will be extended to the public, whereby those under red code will be required to report and verify their negative ART result daily for five days through the BruHealth application to allow them to enter premises each day. This measure will be implemented starting 6 May 2022;
On cross-border matters, the minister added the exit-country guideline which is the requirement to be fully vaccinated with a booster dose for citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam and those who intend to return to the country is extended to individuals aged 12 to 17 who intend to travel out of the country.
“This requirement will be implemented for outbound travels starting from Sunday 15 May 2022,” said the minister.
Moreover, taking into consideration the effectiveness of ART testing in detecting active infections amongst individuals, as shown by data analysis (concordance and Negative Predictive Value), local statistics have shown that there is no difference in infection risk between those arriving from countries under the Travel Green List (TGL) and those arriving from non-TGL countries, continued the minister.
“… As well as the coordination of health protocols in the country, whereupon cross-border travel protocols will be updated and subsequently implemented starting 6 May 2022,” he said.
- (i) Non-essential entry travel into Brunei Darussalam via air is permitted for those who have completed their COVID-19 vaccinations from any country without Entry Travel Pass (ETP) applications;
- (ii) The definition for full vaccination is amended from only having two doses of COVID-19 vaccine to having a booster dose or if booster dose is not yet received, individuals without a booster dose are required to have two doses of COVID-19 vaccinations, of which the second dose has to be obtained not more than three months prior to date of entry into the country;
- (iii) Removal of categorisation of TGL and non-TGL countries;
- (iv) The difference in health protocols for those entering the country is based on their vaccination status only, whereby the health protocols for those who are not fully vaccinated are the same as those who have arrived from non-TGL countries;
- (v) Fully vaccinated individuals who are entering the country are required to perform ART three times after their arrival in the country – on day of arrival, day two and day three. “This means that undergoing RT-PCR test upon arrival and self-isolation are no longer required, only if the ART results are negative. A $40 charge will be imposed for the three ART kits,” said YB Pehin Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Awang Abu Bakar.
- (vi) Individuals who are not yet fully-vaccinated are only permitted to enter the country if they can verify that they are medically exempted from receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, and are required to undergo ART upon arrival and RT-PCR test on the third day after arrival. “They are also required to undergo self-isolation until RT-PCR results are obtained. The $100 charge for both ART and RT-PCR still remains,” he added.
3. Cross-border activities through land and sea control posts are still not permitted, except for essential purposes only. However, citizens and permanent residents of Brunei Darussalam returning to the country via land or sea from essential travel are allowed to undergo self-isolation at home or at hotels;
4. On the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations:
- i. Private events at home are allowed for close family members only in accordance to the current capacity permitted for mass gatherings, that is, a maximum of 30 guests (not including the host) or 300 people for events held in halls, while also observing health guidelines as follows:-
- a. Performing ART before leaving the house to visit close family members. Those with a positive result are required to report to the BruHealth application and self-isolate at home;
- b. Wearing mask except when eating and drinking;
- c. Frequent washing of hands or use of hand sanitizer; and
- d. Visiting in groups as well as shaking hands are not encouraged.
“The public is reminded to take precautionary steps in protecting each other, especially for high-risk individuals such as the elderly. Therefore, people are advised to be extra careful and to stay at home if they feel unwell,” added the minister.
5. Registered domestic runners under the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) are required to perform ART twice a week and upload ART results to the BruHealth application.
“Domestic runners are no longer required to undergo RT-PCR every fortnight, similar to the requirement for transporters which was announced previously in a Media Statement by the COVID-19 Steering Committee,” said the home affairs minister.
The extension of the Early Endemic Phase and updating of guidelines take into account the condition of daily COVID-19 infections which has become more stable; increasing vaccination rates for the third dose including vaccination rates for children; in addition to ensuring that conditions are stable after schools reopen and employees fully return to their respective offices, as well as updated cross-border guidelines.
“Therefore, the COVID-19 Steering Committee will continue to monitor and examine the current COVID-19 situation for the well-being of citizens and residents of the country before transitioning to the next phase, Insya Allah. Once again, the public is reminded not to be complacent and to continue to adhere to Standard Operating Procedures and health protocols,” he continued, adding that the use of ART prior to entering premises is encouraged as well as to ensure good air ventilation.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN