BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei has banned the entry of individuals departing from or transiting through Indonesia as COVID-19 cases surge in the neighbouring country.

In a statement Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office said the temporary suspension also applies to foreign nationals who have been granted pre-approvals to enter Brunei Darussalam from Indonesia.

Brunei recorded 14 new imported cases of COVID-19 on Monday, all Indonesian citizens who arrived in the sultanate on July 12 on a flight originating from Indonesia but transiting in Singapore.

The previous day, the healthy ministry recorded eight individuals traveling from Jakarta who tested positive for coronavirus upon arrival in Brunei.

Indonesia records highest number of deaths in a single day

Fueled by the spread of the more virulent Delta variant, Indonesia has reported more new COVID-19 cases than any country in the world, according to the seven-day average from a Reuters data tracker.

Over the past week, it has averaged 50,039 new cases per day.

On Monday, Indonesia reported 1,338 COVID-19 deaths – its highest ever. It was second only to Brazil in terms of the number of deaths reported in a single day.

Novi Bawazir, 42, accompanied by her 11-year-old son, Muhammad Faith Atthalah, cries as they attend the burial of Novi’s 64-year-old mother, Yoyoh Sa’diah, who passed away due to complications related to COVID-19 on July 8, 2021. The family had been unable to get the 64-year-old into a bed in hospital as her oxygen levels plummeted. Photo: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters

As Indonesia repeatedly reported record infections and COVID-19 deaths in recent weeks, health experts are calling the country Asia’s new epicentre for the virus.

Health services in the country are overwhelmed and requests to help people find hospital beds or oxygen tanks have been shared on social media, while reports of those who died trying have risen.

The government is set to decide whether to extend the country’s toughest coronavirus curbs to date, as a survey showed trust in President Joko Widodo’s ability to handle the pandemic has fallen sharply among the public.

The curbs on movement, which include the closure of shopping malls and a work-from-home order for non-essential workers, on the islands of Java, Bali and 15 other cities across the archipelago, are set to end on July 20.

Ardi Novriansyah, 41, a volunteer undertaker wears personal protective equipment as he takes a short-break while carrying the coffin of 64-year-old Yoyoh Sa’diah who passed away due to complications related to COVID-19. Photo: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters

The opinion poll by The Indonesian Survey Institute, which was conducted in late June before the worst of the current outbreak, showed trust that the president can handle the pandemic fell to 43 percent compared with 56.5 percent in a poll in February.

Asked for comment on the survey, a spokesperson for the president said he has not studied the poll.

The government has faced criticism in some media of its handling of the pandemic with the publication Tempo in an editorial on Monday saying a denial of the gravity of the situation by officials had hurt efforts to control the outbreak.