BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah has reminded Bruneians not to be complacent in preventing the spread of COVID-19, despite no reports of local transmissions for over a year.

In his titah during Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah’s (YSHHB) Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration on Thursday, the monarch said residents should continue taking precautionary measures and offer supplication to avert a COVID-19 disaster.

The charitable foundation’s Hari Raya celebration gathered frontliners, from healthcare workers to volunteers involved in tackling COVID-19.

Brunei has managed to contain the spread of COVID-19 within three months last year, with the first case detected on March 9 and the last locally acquired infection was recorded on May 6.

Since the last community-acquired infection, Brunei has reported 100 import cases, bringing the overall tally to 241 on Thursday.

Students recreate a mock COVID-19 press conference as part of their performance at the YSHHB Hari Raya celebration at ICC on May 27, 2021. Photo: Infofoto

The sultan praised all frontliners for their dedication in keeping the country safe, including healthcare workers who take care of patients and officers who work hard to find patients’ close contacts.

“I would like to reiterate my appreciation to the frontliners, including religious officials, for their contribution and commitment in handling this frightening situation.

“I admire the patience shown by all citizens and residents in giving their strong support to the government in dealing with the pandemic,” he added.

Students carry the ‘Don’t Push It’ tagline as part of their performance at the YSHHB Hari Raya celebration at ICC on May 27, 2021. Photo: Infofoto

His Majesty also commended government agencies, the private sector and NGOs that implemented various initiatives to ensure the well-being of people.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 outbreak is a test, one that we must face with patience, he said.

“Perhaps it reminded or encouraged us to be more united in facing challenges or to be more creative by empowering ourselves with skills,” he added.

The sultan further said health is a valuable gift and blessing in the government’s efforts to develop the country.

“Health is also a priority because it is only when people are healthy can they be expected to contribute [to nation-building],” he continued.

Their Majesties and members of the royal family pose for a group photo with performers on the sidelines of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration organised by YSHHB on May 27, 2021. Photo: Infofoto

‘Spare a thought for Palestinians’

The monarch said Bruneians should not forget the plight of Palestinians this Raya.

As we rejoice in our Hari Raya celebration in peace, let us also not forget our brothers and sisters in Palestine who are struggling to defend themselves and their country from the enemy’s aggression.

“There were many innocent victims, including children, women and the elderly,” he added.

Israeli airstrikes killed at least 253 Palestinians and damaged thousands of buildings after 11 days of bombing.

“Undoubtedly this aggression is a cruel act that violates against human rights. Only to Allah do we pray for justice,” His Majesty said.

Members of the public can donate to a newly-launched humanitarian fund to provide emergency relief for Palestinians.