BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — The health ministry confirmed two COVID-related fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the national death toll to five.

The fatalities were the first to be reported in Brunei’s second COVID-19 wave, and come more than 14 months after the third coronavirus-related death was announced.

Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said the victims, an 85-year-woman (Case 609) and 69-year-old man (Case 1629), had contracted lung infections — a serious complication of COVID-19.

Case 609 and Case 1629 were admitted to the National Isolation Centre on August 14 and August 22, respectively.

No further details were released to respect their families’ privacy.

110 new COVID-19 cases

In his daily press briefing, the minister also announced 110 new coronavirus cases, taking the number of active cases to 1,508.

Ten cases were linked to new Cluster 1597, and another new cluster of six infections were linked to Patient 1640.

Without giving a full breakdown of the new cases, the minister said 53 of the new infections were linked to the 40 active clusters.

The ministry has yet to ascertain the source of 46 new infections.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said about 30 percent of the 1,644 cases reported in the second wave have not been linked to any clusters.

A healthcare worker takes a swab sample at the drive-thru testing centre in BRIDEX on August 23, 2021. Photo: Rudolf Portillo/The Scoop

Three imported infections were also reported, including two from Malaysia and one from the Philippines.

Thirty-two people have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, while 31 patients are in the Intensive Care Unit.

The cumulative number of coronavirus cases reached 1,983 on Tuesday.

MoH plans to open drive-thru swab centre in Belait

As community cases continue to mount, the ministry is planning to open another drive-thru swab centre to ramp up testing in Belait.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said the new swab centre is expected to be ready in the next “two to three days”.

BruHealth data showed that Belait is the worst-hit district in the second wave, accounting for 53 percent of the active cases.

Brunei’s first drive-thru testing centre opened on Monday at BRIDEX, which has a 24-hour mobile lab that can process 5,000 swab samples a day.

Asked whether anyone has flouted COVID-19 rules, the minister said a few people were caught violating quarantine orders.

“We will share the numbers in one or two days and whether they will be issued a compound fine or brought to court,” he added.