BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – All transport operators and essential travellers are now required to undergo COVID-19 antigen rapid tests at land border checkpoints as the health ministry steps up precautionary measures against the highly contagious Delta variant.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said mandatory antigen rapid testing for transport operators and other essential travellers began at land borders on July 26.

Regardless of their vaccination status, all transport operators and other essential travellers who received permission from the Prime Minister’s Office must show a negative COVID-19 test result before they are allowed entry to Brunei.

A negative test result is only valid for the day of entry, which means that inbound travellers must undergo re-testing in the following days before they can enter the country.

The antigen rapid test usually takes 10 minutes to detect an active COVID-19 infection, but is not as sensitive as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

Transport operators from Brunei will be immediately isolated for further examination if they return a positive antigen rapid test result.

For transport operators and other essential travellers from abroad, entry to Brunei will be denied should they test positive.

PCR tests on all transport operators will still be administered based on MoH’s set schedule.

The ministry said the antigen rapid testing aims to prevent the import and subsequent transmission of COVID- 19 infections in Brunei.

Brunei has suspended the entry of foreign nationals from Malaysia via land and sea checkpoints since January after the number of COVID-19 cases spiked in the neighbouring country.

However, transport operators with permits issued by the Brunei government can still make cross-border trips to deliver essential goods.

Malaysia reported a record daily high 17,405 COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, driven by the fast spreading Delta variant. The country’s cumulative cases stood at 1.07 million on Thursday.