COVID-19 live updates: March archive An archive of our live blog from March 13 to April 3


This live blog is now closed and archived. Please visit our April live blog for the latest COVID-19 updates. 


Brunei still faces threat from imported infections: MoH

7.28pm | April 3, 2020

The Ministry of Health recorded one new coronavirus case on Friday, a 22-year-old student who returned from the United States on March 29. The national COVID-19 tally has reached 134.

Sixty-five coronavirus-infected patients or 48 percent of the total have recovered after nine more patients were discharged from the National Isolation Centre in 24 hours.

During his daily press briefing, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said three people remain in critical condition, including one who is still on life support.

He said Brunei has ramped up its coronavirus testing, with a maximum capacity of 1,000 tests each day. To date, 7,566 tests have been conducted.

While the number of infections in Brunei has declined, the minister said the country is still facing the threat of imported COVID-19 cases.

“It is a fact that an outbreak will be declared over when no new cases are reported in 28 days. However, it is expected that the virus will not be eliminated at the same time, especially taking into account that the spread of the virus is not under control on a global scale yet,” he added.

The minister said the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions can only be done in stages once the government has studied the effectiveness of control measures in the country and elsewhere in the world.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham further said the government still does not encourage the public to wear protective masks when they go out unless they are feeling unwell.

The government decided that the public are not required to wear masks after taking into consideration several factors such as lower population density and absence of community spread compared to other countries, he said.

The minister was responding to a reporter’s question on why Brunei has yet to introduce a mask-wearing policy even though other countries have recommended wearing them to curtail the transmission of the virus.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham acknowledged that almost half of coronavirus patients are asymptomatic in Brunei, but it is important to study the context of the situation as the sultanate has a high testing rate as opposed to other countries.

“Some countries do not know who is positive or negative because they don’t do as many tests,” he added.

Speaking on the acquisition of medical equipment, the minister said Brunei needs to be aggressive to compete with other countries as it is not just a matter of having money to procure medical supplies.

He said China has helped Brunei acquire medical equipment, while Royal Brunei Airlines is expected to deliver “seven to eight” flights of medical supplies, including beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitisers that will be needed at the new isolation centre.

Full statement from MoH:

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Two new cases reported, COVID-19 relief fund reaches $3.2 million

6.37pm | April 2, 2020

NB: An earlier version of this entry stated that the government will consider lifting COVID-19 restrictions 28 days after Brunei records no new infections. The Ministry of Health has retracted this statement and will provide a clarification later today (April 3, 2020).

Another two patients tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total to 133.

One of the new cases is a close contact of a previously confirmed patient. The other case involved a local man who recently returned from the United Kingdom via Singapore on April 1.

Giving an update on Patient 121, the minister said investigations have revealed that the 21-year-old is linked to the Tabligh cluster as he met some of the coronavirus-infected members last month.

There are now 76 people being treated at the National Isolation Centre after four patients were discharged overnight, bringing the total number of recoveries to 56 people.

Three people are still critically ill, including one who is on life support.

Some 451 people are still in quarantine while 1,858 have been released from their quarantine.

A total of 7,055 diagnostic tests have been administered thus far. Based on an estimated population of 459,000, one in 65 people has taken the test in Brunei.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said the COVID-19 relief fund has collected $3.24 million since it was open to public donations on March 21.

He added that several contractors of the new virology lab on Jln Sumbiling have contributed to the cost of building the $569,348 testing facility.

Full statement from MoH:

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RB could lose hundreds of millions in COVID-19 pandemic

11.53pm | April 1, 2020

Royal Brunei’s A320neo in flight. Photo: Courtesy of Airbus

Royal Brunei Airlines could suffer hundreds of millions in lost revenue as the coronavirus pandemic poses an unprecedented crisis to the global airline and travel industry.

The airline has cut 95 percent of flights, only retaining four routes — Singapore, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Manila — to maintain essential trade connectivity for food, medical supplies and other consignments.

“The financial implications are going to be huge,” said Second Minister of Finance and Economy Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, who also serves as chairman on RB’s board of directors.

Last week, the airline told its 1,750 employees that they would be required to take compulsory paid leave From April 1 to May 31, and only a small number of staff would be retained to operate the reduced flying programme.

Full story here.


AI to facilitate contact tracing

9.53pm | April 1, 2020

Members of the public will soon be able to alert authorities if they came into close contact with confirmed carriers of the coronavirus through a direct reporting tool online.

The online reporting tool, which will assist the health ministry with contact tracing, is part of the additional features that will be included on the COVID-19 health information website from April 2.

The website will also feature COVID-19 activity mapping, which traces the recent whereabouts and activities of confirmed coronavirus patients before they were hospitalised.

Users can also find a collection of government press statements and a health education tool that provides articles and information on COVID-19.

Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah unveiled the new features in a press conference on Wednesday.

The minister said over 27,000 people have used the website’s self-assessment tool to check for COVID-19 symptoms.

When asked about the amount of donations made to the COVID-19 Relief Fund, he said $1.98 million has been collected since March 21.

The health ministry has used over $1 million from the relief fund to procure medical equipment, he added.


Private sector employees qualify for coronavirus paid sick leave

8.59pm | April 1, 2020

The Ministry of Home Affairs has introduced a temporary measure that allows private sector workers to take paid sick leave once they have worked with their current employer for at least one month as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The move is an amendment of the previous regulation outlined in the Employment Order 2009, where private sector employees were only entitled to paid sick leave six months after they joined their place of work.

Home Affairs Minister YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong said the amendment was made to safeguard the well-being of private sector employees as they may be required to undergo quarantine, self-isolation or medical treatment.

The temporary measure takes effect on March 9 until further notice.

The one-month employment period was recommended following consultations with the Manpower Planning and Employment Council and several private companies that are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister said.

He also called on private employers to protect the welfare of their staff by providing work alternatives to coronavirus-affected employees, including allowing advanced annual leave for those who are not eligible for paid sick leave and implementing flexible working hours.

Members of the public can contact the Labour Department at 2381848 (during working hours) or 7298989 (outside working hours) for more information.


Two new infections detected, transmission rate slowing down

8.07pm | April 1, 2020

The national COVID-19 tally has risen to 131 after the health ministry reported two new infections on Wednesday.

One of the new cases returned to Brunei after participating in the Kalimantan Bike Week with 32 friends. The 39-year-old man has been in self-isolation since March 16.

During his daily press briefing, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said a 28-year-old man has also tested positive for the coronavirus after travelling from the US via Singapore on March 16.

Fifty-two people or 39 percent of cases have recovered from COVID-19 after another seven patients were discharged from the National Isolation Centre.

Three patients remain in critical condition, with one still on life support.

The minister said all Bruneians who recently returned home have taken the swab test for coronavirus, including those who are practising self-isolation or undergoing their mandatory isolation at designated monitoring centres.

To date, a total of 6,799 tests have been conducted.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said Brunei has flattened the curve for coronavirus based on data generated from artificial intelligence.

Source: Ministry of Health

Compared to neighbouring countries, he said Brunei has a “stable slope” in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The minister said travel restrictions, ban on mass gatherings and mosque closures were shown to be effective in slowing down the transmission rate.

Source: Ministry of Health

While reassuring the public that Brunei has kept COVID-19 under control, he said it is important not to be complacent to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Responding to a reporter’s question on Case 121 whose source of infection is unknown, the minister said 72 people have stepped forward to assist the ministry in contact tracing.

Full statement from MoH:

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MoH reports 2 more cases, three in critical condition

5.50pm | March 31, 2020

Two more people have tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the national tally to 129.

During his daily briefing, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said one case was a close contact of a previously confirmed patient and the other case has a recent travel history to Phuket, Thailand.

A further seven people have been discharged from the National Isolation Centre, taking the total number of recoveries to 45.

One of the three critically ill patients is now on life support.

A total of 854 people are placed in quarantine while 1,424 people have been allowed to return home after completing their 14-day quarantine.

The minister said 1 in 67 people has taken the swab test for coronavirus in Brunei after 6,421 tests were administered.

Full statement from MoH:

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Banks to defer loan repayments for all businesses in private sector

10.01pm | March 30, 2020

The government has announced a deferment of bank loan repayments of up to a year for businesses, private sector employees and self-employed individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic starting April 1.

The loan repayment deferral, worth about $250 million, is part of the government’s $450 million economic stimulus package to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

The economic stimulus package includes the previously announced interim measures such as wage subsidy and social security contributions.

The newly-added measures under the financial package are as follows:

  1. Deferment of the principal payment of loans or financing to all business sectors;
  2. Restructuring and deferment of principal amount on personal loans and hire purchase facilities such as car loans for not more than 10 years;
  3. Deferment on the principal amount or financing of real estate;
  4. Restructuring of outstanding credit card balances into a loan for a period of not more than three years. This is applicable to those in the private sector only, including those who are self-employed. However, this does not include increasing the amount of credit card limit during the three-year period.
  5. All bank fees and charges, except third party charges, will be waived.

Applications for the deferral can be made to the respective banks and financial institutions from April 1 to December 30, 2020. The deferment is from the date of approval until March 31 next year.

During a press conference, Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said applications are subject to assessment of their banks and financial institutions.

“With the addition of these relief measures, it is hoped that banks would be able to support businesses and individuals who are affected, thus alleviating their financial burden under these difficult circumstances,” he said.

The minister said the banking sector in Brunei remains resilient, stable and has sufficient capital funds.

For more information on these measures, the public can contact their banks or AMBD at 2388388 or email info@ambd.gov.bn.


Mosque closure extended for another week

8.24pm | March 30, 2020

All mosques, surau and prayer halls will remain closed for a third week to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the religious affairs minister announced on Monday.

YB Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awg Othman said the COVID-19 situation remains dangerous in Brunei, thus the decision to extend the closure.

He said mosques and other places of worship have been disinfected and steps will continue to be taken to ensure they remain clean and safe when they reopen.

The temporary mosque closure does not apply to the observance of Nisfu Syaaban, which falls on April 8. However, this may change depending on the latest COVID-19 developments.


One new case confirmed; new virology lab opens on April 1

7.51pm | March 30, 2020

The Ministry of Health recorded one new COVID-19 case on Monday, a three-year-old boy who is a close contact of a previously confirmed patient. The national tally of coronavirus cases stands at 127.

Another four patients have been allowed to return home after making full recoveries. A total of 38 people have been discharged from the National Isolation Centre so far.

In his daily press briefing, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said three patients are now in critical condition while one is being closely monitored.

Four out of nine Bruneians who tested positive for the coronavirus in Kuala Kumpur have also returned home. They are linked to the Tabligh gathering cluster in Malaysia’s Sri Petaling Mosque.

A total 531 people have chosen to isolate themselves at home after returning from abroad. Out of the number, 346 are students.

Those who are isolating at home and yet to take the COVID-19 test have been urged to report themselves to Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital’s Sports Complex immediately.

About 72 percent of 1,051 people who are undergoing the mandatory isolation at designated monitoring centres have taken the swab test for coronavirus.

A total of 5,980 tests have been administered to date.

The minister said construction of the new testing lab on Jalan Sumbiling has been completed and will start operating on April 1.

The virology lab is expected to increase Brunei’s testing capacity and speed up the testing process.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham also called on anyone who had contact with Case 121 from March 10-15 to call 2380665 or 8163065 during office hours. The ministry is still conducting contact tracing to determine the 21-year-old’s source of infection.

Full statement from MoH:

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366 Bruneians repatriated from Egypt

9.03pm | March 29, 2020

A total of 366 Brunei students have returned home after being evacuated from Egypt amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The students — the majority of whom study at Al-Azahar University — were flown from Cairo in two special chartered flights operated by Royal Brunei Airlines.

The first flight arrived on Saturday morning carrying 236 students, while the second flight arrived on Sunday morning carrying 131 Bruneian students as well as 84 Malaysians stranded in Egypt.

The Malaysian contingent from Cairo flew back to Kuala Lumpur this afternoon, accompanied by another 25 Malaysian nationals who were stranded in Brunei.

Egypt closed its schools and universities on March 14, as the number of coronavirus infections reached 109. Five days later it suspended all international flights until March 31.

As of March 28, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Arab republic is 576.


Six new cases brings Brunei total to 126

7.03pm | March 29, 2020

The Ministry of Health (MoH) reported six new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the national total to 126.

A further nine people have been discharged from the National Isolation Centre after making a full recovery, with the total number of recovered patients at 34. Two patients remain in critical condition.

Three of the new cases had recent travel history to Melbourne, Bangkok and Austria via London.

Two cases were close contacts of previously confirmed cases. For the sixth new case, a 21-year-old male known as Patient 121, contact tracing is still being conducted.

During his daily press briefing, health minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar said one patient tested who positive for COVID-19 had used the new online self-assessment tool to check his/her symptoms.

According to the most recent numbers released on Thursday, more than 6,000 people have used the online self-assessment tool to check their symptoms.

To date, 61 percent of Brunei’s confirmed COVID-19 cases are men, while 38 percent are women. Forty-six percent of cases in Brunei are asymptomatic.

Some 917 individuals are still under quarantine for having close contact with people who tested positive for the virus, while MoH has conducted 5,656 COVID-19 tests since January 2020. That means that one in every 78 people in Brunei has been tested, among the highest testing rates in the world.

YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham added that the donations from the COVID-19 relief fund — which reached $1.2 million on Saturday — will be used to buy beds and medical supplies.

Full statement from MoH:

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Government to pay 25% of private sector workers’ wages

9.31pm | March 28, 2020

Second Minister of Finance and Economy YB Dato Dr Hj Md Amin. Photo: The Scoop

The government will pay 25 percent of private sector employees’ salaries for three months as part of additional measures to help businesses ride out the economic slowdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announcing the new measures in a press conference, Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said the government will cover a portion of the wages of micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) employees who earn $1,500 and below.

He said the wage subsidy will alleviate the financial burden of MSMEs and hoped that it would protect local employees’ jobs.

MSMEs that have 100 staff and below can submit completed application forms for the wage subsidy to payments@tap.com.bn. The application forms can be downloaded from the Employees Trust Fund’s website from April 1.

In an effort to generate more jobs, the government has also expanded the iReady apprenticeship programme to include holders of Higher National Diploma, Advanced Diploma and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) certification.

During the apprenticeship — which has been shortened from three years to 18 months — the government will pay an allowance of $800 to degree holders, $600 to diploma holders and $400 for people with TVET certification.

Starting March 2020, the government has also waived the rental fees of tamu and gerai stalls under the home affairs ministry for six months.

The minister said Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) will increase the number of grants for e-commerce and logistics service companies under its “co-matching grant” initiative to help these businesses prepare for the future.

To promote lifelong learning and upgrade the skills of local employees, the Manpower Planning and Employment Council and DARe have also prepared online training programmes.

The new initiatives were announced a week after MoFE unveiled its first set of economic measures to help the private sector survive the downturn.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin said JobCentre Brunei has also been revamped to improve the effectiveness of filling the advertised job vacancies.

“People need to realise that when there are job opportunities, they must grab it. This is an unusual time, it’s not like you have many choices in front of you.

“It’s not a time to choose what you want to do. The more people [who managed to] secure jobs, the less burden [it will place] on the government,” he added.

The minister said the government has already spent “tens of millions of dollars” for the health ministry to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I am sure this is not the end of it, there will be more we need to spend on,” he added.


Tally reaches 120 with five new infections

7.01pm | March 28, 2020

Brunei has reported five new coronavirus cases on Saturday, with four of the patients recently returning from overseas. The tally of COVID-19 cases has reached 120.

Giving his daily update in a press briefing, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said three of the new cases had a travel history to United Kingdom.

One patient is a close contact of a confirmed carrier of the virus while another case returned from Manila on March 14.

Fourteen patients have been discharged from the National Isolation Centre overnight, taking the total number of recoveries to 25.

Two people are in critical condition and another two require intensive care.

The ministry has also reported the highest number of people released from quarantine in a day after 1,110 completed their quarantine.

A total of 909 people are still in quarantine, down by 20 percent from yesterday.

The ministry has also conducted 5,133 laboratory tests thus far.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said Brunei residents can now file applications to exit the country through the Prime Minister’s Office’s website instead of submitting via email.

The government banned all Brunei residents with a valid identity card from leaving the country on March 15, except those who have urgent or emergency matters.

Full statement from MoH:

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Brunei records first death from COVID-19

9.18am | March 28, 2020

Minister of Health YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham cuts a sombre figure as he announces Brunei’s first death linked to COVID-19. Photo: Ain Bandial/The Scoop

A 64-year-old man has died from complications due to COVID-19, the first death in the country linked to the global coronavirus pandemic.

The man, only identified as Patient 25, passed away on Friday evening at 8.20pm, the Ministry of Health said in a statement this morning.

He had recently travelled to Kuala Lumpur and Cambodia, returning to Brunei on March 4. He reported the onset of symptoms on March 8 and tested positive for the coronavirus on March 12.

He began receiving treatment at the National Isolation Centre in Tutong, and when his condition worsened on March 16 he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.

He succumbed to the illness on the evening of March 27, after being on life support for four days.

Out of respect for the family’s privacy, the health ministry has not released the personal details or medical history of the deceased.

It also urged the public to refrain from disseminating personal information about the deceased on social media.


New isolation centre building to be ready in 2-3 weeks

8.18pm | March 27, 2020

The government is building a new isolation centre that will increase bed capacity by 170 when it is ready to treat COVID-19 patients in two to three weeks, the development minister said.

In a press conference, YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Suhaimi Hj Gafar said the government started building the new centre today near the existing National Isolation Centre in Tutong.

The new centre will accommodate more coronavirus-infected patients who need intensive care as the existing centre has reached nearly 80 percent of its 136-bed capacity.

As of Friday, 104 COVID-19 patients are still being treated at the National Isolation Centre.

The minister said it is important to set up a new isolation centre as new cases have been reported every day since the first Bruneian was detected on March 9.

Architects and engineers at the development ministry are also holding discussions with doctors to study the design and specific facilities needed to ensure the building can be operated as an isolation centre as soon as possible.

YB Dato Hj Suhaimi said some of the facilities at the new isolation centre include individual monitoring wards, X-Ray room, counselling and meeting rooms as well as on-call rooms for doctors and nurses.

Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said building a new isolation centre was not part of the government’s initial plan as the existing centre was deemed good enough for the country with its 27 beds that are fitted for those who need intensive care.

However, the ministry now requires more beds due to the increasing number of coronavirus infections in Brunei.

“What we are doing now is [increasing the capacity], hopefully the spread of this virus will not overstretch our health system too much. What is most important now is preparing our ICU for any possibilities,” he said.

The ministry also has plans to isolate confirmed COVID-19 patients at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha if the number of COVID-19 patients exceed the amount of beds at the isolation centre.

“We are trying not to use RIPAS Hospital or any other hospital, if possible,” the health minister added.

The construction site for the new wing of the National Isolation Centre in Tutong. Photo: Courtesy of Ministry of Health

One new case confirmed, another 6 patients recover

6.51pm | March 27, 2020

The Ministry of Health has confirmed one new COVID-19 case, while six more patients have recovered from the coronavirus.

Eleven people have been discharged from the National Isolation Centre in Tutong since the first case was reported nearly three weeks ago. Brunei’s COVID-19 case tally now stands at 115.

Delivering his daily update on Friday, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar said the new case involved a local who returned from a family holiday in the United Kingdom on a March 21 Royal Brunei Airlines flight.

The ministry has also confirmed that Case 103 – whose source of infection was previously unknown – is linked to the Tabligh gathering cluster in Brunei following “detailed investigations”.

Two patients are in critical condition and three require intensive care.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohammad Isham said even though the number of confirmed cases declined, precautionary measures must continue to be taken as many people are still in quarantine or undergoing self-isolation.

A total of 1,140 people are being quarantined while 874 people have been discharged from their quarantine.

The ministry has administered 4,994 tests to date.

As tens of thousands of civil servants are expected to receive their monthly salary tomorrow, the minister reminded Bruneians to practise physical distancing at stores, markets and banks, including the use of ATM machines.

Shop owners were advised to limit the number of customers at one time and use floor markers with a distance of at least one metre to separate shoppers at payment counters.

The minister also called on Bruneians not to abuse the 148 health advice line as prank calls will prevent people from seeking help. The hotline ran into “technical issues” on Thursday.

Bruneians were also urged not to discriminate against COVID-19 patients as this does not help the government in its fight to contain the outbreak.

“What’s important is we learn from mistakes and reflect on them. We must remember not to attack [the patients] as solidarity is important,” YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham added.

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MoFE to provide drive-through pension collection services

9.41pm | March 26, 2020

The government will set up drive-through collection counters for service and derivative pensions on Saturday (March 28) in an effort to prevent mass gatherings and crowding.

The second minister of finance and economy, YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, said a large number of recipients still prefer to receive their payments through service counters despite the availability of banking services.

The drive-through will be operational on March 28 and March 30 from 7.30am to 4pm at the following places:

  1. International Convention Centre, Berakas
  2. Dewan Persidangan in Kuala Belait
  3. Dewan Kemasyarakatan, Tutong

For recipients in Temburong district, drive-through services are not available but they can still collect their pension payment at the Treasury Department office.

After March 30, recipients can still collect their payments over the next 10 working days at the designated locations.

Those in Brunei-Muara can collect their pension payment at the Ministry of Finance and Economy, while recipients in other districts can receive their payment from Treasury Department branches.

Pension recipients are required to bring along their identity cards.

YB Dato Amin Liew said for recipients who have a bank account but have yet to register with the Treasury Department, they are required to bring along a copy of their bank card to facilitate the payment process for the next month.

Members of the public can call 2380822/2383469 for more information.


COVID-19 Relief Fund surpasses $1 million

8.51pm | March 26, 2020

Minister of Education YB Dato Hj Hamzah. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Donations made to the COVID-19 Relief Fund have surpassed $1 million, five days after it was launched.

Joining the health and education ministers in a press briefing, Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said the fund would help the health ministry contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The director-general of health services has been given authorisation to spend the funds to speed up the process of procuring medical supplies.

The minister said the government will also audit the relief fund to ensure it is not used for other purposes.

Meanwhile, the website that was launched on Tuesday to provide the latest information on COVID-19 has recorded over 50,000 visitors.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin said more than 6,000 people have also used the online self-assessment tool to check their symptoms.

More features such as health education resources and a direct reporting platform will be added to the web app in the near future.


MoE allows teachers to work from home

8.07pm | March 26, 2020

Teachers will be given flexible working arrangements when they deliver their classes online starting March 30, the education minister said.

In a press conference on Thursday, YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman said the working procedures of schools and teachers will have to change given the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

School leaders can allow teachers to work from home, including staff who are pregnant or other vulnerable groups.

The minister said it was important for students to continue learning while at home, thus the decision requiring public and private schools to conduct their classes online when the new  academic term starts next Monday.

“We need to be aware that the capacity of schools are different. The approaches taken will depend on the school leaders and capacity of teachers,” he added.

For special needs students, he said parents are encouraged to call their schools to make learning arrangements.

Tuition centres were also urged to provide online lessons to promote physical distancing.

For more information, the public can contact the ministry’s COVID-19 Operation Centre at 2382396 during office hours.


COVID-19 tally rises to 114, three patients make full recovery

6.59pm | March 26, 2020

Five more people have tested positive for COVID-19, raising the cumulative tally of cases to 114.

Five patients have made full recoveries after 3 cases were discharged from the National Isolation Centre in Tutong overnight, the health minister said in his daily press briefing on Thursday.

YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said four of the new cases were linked to clusters that have already been identified.

The other case had returned from the United Kingdom on a Royal Brunei Airlines flight on March 23. She was reported to have symptoms before boarding the flight home.

One patient remains in critical condition and another three are under intensive care.

 

 

The minister said 1,221 people are currently in quarantine while 794 people have been released from their 14-day quarantine.

A total of 4,519 laboratory tests have been conducted thus far.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said mass testing for COVID-19 is not required at the moment as there is no evidence of widespread community transmission in Brunei.

Reassuring parents on volunteers’ safety, the minister said volunteers are assigned low-risk tasks, such as body temperature screening and administration work at monitoring centres.

The volunteers were mobilised by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to help the health ministry battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Full statement from MoH:

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All schools to move classes online, UNN boosts broadband data capacity for students

7.23pm | March 25, 2020

All classes will be conducted online once the March school holidays end on Sunday to combat the spread of COVID-19, the education ministry announced in a press statement on Wednesday.

The ministry said all public and private school students, including sixth form centres and Institute of Brunei Technical Education, will be required to stay at home and attend online lessons once the new school term starts next Monday.

Schools will provide “home-pack learning” for students who do not have Internet access at home. Educational television programmes will also be broadcast to support students’ learning, the ministry said.

The ministry has also announced that the IGCSE, O-, AS- and A-level May/June exams will not proceed following the Cambridge Assessment International Education’s (CAIE) decision to cancel the exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An alternative assessment is being considered to ensure student learning is not compromised, the ministry said.

More information on the cancellation of public exams can be obtained by calling 2380630 during office hours, or email exam.dept@moe.gov.bn and jbtpeperiksaan.helpdesks@moe.gov.bn.

In a press conference, the second minister of finance and economy said telco infrastructure provider Unified National Networks (UNN) will increase fixed broadband data capacity to support students’ online learning starting March 30.

YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said students can still use learning applications and platforms even if they reached their data quota limit as their broadband speed will not be throttled for using education apps.

The minister said UNN is also working on enhancing mobile broadband data.


Five more COVID-19 cases confirmed, taking tally to 109

6.19pm | March 25, 2020

The Ministry of Health has confirmed five new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 109.

In his daily press briefing, YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said three cases were related to previously announced clusters.

Two were imported cases from United Kingdom and Surabaya, Indonesia.

One patient remains in critical condition and is on life support. Another three patients require intensive care, including one case where the ministry has yet to trace his source of infection.

“He is still unwell to be interrogated further,” the minister said, adding that family members were asked to provide information.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said he anticipates the number of infections to rise further, especially among those who recently returned home.

“This is why it’s important for those who just returned to isolate, this is the second wave [of cases]. We are expecting 20 percent of them to test positive [for COVID-19],” he added.

When asked about the hospital’s capacity, the minister said there are 30 beds left at the National Isolation Centre in Tutong.

He said there are contingency plans in place if number of cases exceed the amount of beds at the National Isolation Centre, adding that such plans will be announced in the near future.

A total of 1,211 people are still being quarantined, while 655 people completed their quarantine.

To date, 4,084 laboratory tests have been conducted.

Joining the press briefing, Second Foreign Affairs Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Erywan Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Hj Mohd Yusof said there are currently 2,890 Bruneians abroad.

A total of 806 are those registered with the ministry’s e-register system, while 1,534 are students and 552 are diplomats and their family members.

He said the ministry constantly monitors the COVID-19 situation and well-being of Bruneians abroad.

In cases where there is no embassy or representative office in the country that Bruneians are residing in, they may seek assistance from the nearest diplomatic mission.

Full statement from MoH:

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