BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN- The government will deploy smart helmets that can screen the temperatures of many worshippers at a time as about 36,000 people are expected to perform Friday prayers when mosques reopen tomorrow after a 10-week closure due to COVID-19.

Twelve units of the KC wearable smart helmet will be used to facilitate fast temperature checks and help with crowd control at nine mosques that serve densely populated villages.

As part of precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19, mosques nationwide are only allowed to accommodate 30 to 50 percent of their full capacity depending on the size of the mosques.

The country’s 107 mosques and surau (religious halls) allow a combined 48,898 congregants to attend Friday prayers tomorrow, less than half of the over 100,000 worshippers that mosques can host before social distancing measures were put in place.

As of press time, 74 percent of the available spots have been filled at mosques as 35,980 people used the BruHealth app to make their reservations to pray at mosques this week.

The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Religious Affairs Thursday conducted a dry run on the use of smart helmets with the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Royal Brunei Police Force.

The smart helmets are being tested as another option for temperature screening at mosques, in addition to the thermal scanners that are used at the Brunei International Airport as well as hospitals.   

The nine mosques are as follows:  

  1. Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah
  2. Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddien
  3. Masjid Mohammed Bolkiah, Serusop
  4. Masjid Al Ameerah Al Hajah Maryam, Jerudong
  5. Masjid Hassanal Bolkiah, Mentiri
  6. Masjid Hassanal Bolkiah, Tutong
  7. Masjid RPN Pandan Belait
  8. Masjid Muhammad Jamalul Alam Kuala Belait
  9. Masjid Perpindahan Lambak Kanan

The smart helmets will be used at different mosques every week.

Mosque officials conduct a dry run before places of worship reopen on May 29 after a 10-week closure due to COVID-19. Photo: Yusri Adanan/The Scoop

Equipped with helmet goggles, augmented reality display and infrared thermal imaging, the smart helmet can do contactless rapid temperature screening for indoor and outdoor venues, vehicles and has face recognition and identity verification abilities.

It has AI capabilities that support offline face recognition, license plate recognition as well as QR code identification for paperless registration.  

MoH’s deputy permanent secretary Maswadi Hj Mohsin said the smart helmet will be used to scan the temperatures of Friday prayer congregants for the time being.

There is no limit on the number of people who can be scanned at one time with the smart helmet, and an alarm will sound to notify the user if it detects someone with a temperature of 37 degrees celsius and above.

Maswadi said the person will be identified and separated from the public. A second temperature check will be taken before allowing the person to enter the mosque as exposure to heat may have caused the individual’s temperature to rise in the initial check.

Manual temperature scans will still be conducted at other entry points of mosques.

Maswadi said there is a need to test the effectiveness of the device first and that the smart helmets will also be trialled in other public places such as malls.

The smart helmets allow more mobility compared to thermal scanners and that would hopefully scan temperatures more effectively, he added. 

Military and police personnel will be deployed to assist with QR code scanning and crowd control as mosques reopen on May 29. Photo: Yusri Adanan/The Scoop

Royal Brunei Armed Forces and Royal Brunei Police Force personnel will be deployed at all mosques tomorrow to assist the public in scanning the QR code and help with crowd control.

Worshippers who do not wear protective face masks and bring their own prayer mats will not be allowed to enter mosques even if they have been issued with a green health code on the BruHealth app, said Pg Hj Haslin Pg Hj Ali, acting assistant director of Mosque Affairs Department.

“Mosques nationwide are ready to receive congregants for Friday prayers, however we would like to remind our fellow congregants to follow the Ministry of Health’s guidelines. Members of the mosque committee and volunteers will be on site to assist congregants,” he added.

Mosques will be open at 12pm and gates will be closed just before the start of the prayers. Congregants are urged to leave as soon as the prayers are done.

For all coronavirus-related coverage, visit our COVID-19 hub