BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – A 60-year-old woman with COVID-19 died on Sunday, but the Ministry of Health said the cause of death is still under investigation and did not specifically attribute her death to the virus. 

Seven COVID patients have died in the last week, but so far MoH has only attributed four to COVID-19.

A total of 110 new infections were reported on Sunday, bringing the cumulative number of coronavirus cases to 3,329.

Some 140 people also made recoveries in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of people with active infections to 1,703.

Eight people remain in critical condition and a further 29 people require close monitoring in the Intensive Care Unit.

Health Minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said starting Monday, COVID-19 patients who have recovered after 14 days of quarantine will no longer be required to undergo a further period of home isolation.

However, if patients are allowed to return home before the end of their 14-day quarantine, they will still need to complete the remainder of the quarantine period at home.

More COVID-19 test kits being evaluated

The health ministry has authorised the use of four self-test kits for the public, but a number of unapproved test kits have also surfaced in the domestic market.

In a response to a question on whether MoH will be restricting the import of unapproved test kits, YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said any test kit must receive approval from the ministry.

He added that in addition to the four approved brands, MoH is evaluating other test kits to see whether they meet international standards regarding sensitivity, safety, quality and efficacy.

FILE PHOTO: Ministry of Health staff carrying out rapid antigen testing on transport operators and essential travellers at Brunei’s land borders. Photo: Courtesy of MoH

He called on agents who are bringing in these unapproved test kits in to come forward so that MoH can assess the products.

“We hope the public can be more careful when buying these items. Also, just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s good either,” he said.

“These antigen tests are not 100% [accurate]… Even if they are 90% [accurate], that means if 10 people are positive, you only detect nine, so we might still miss 1.”

“It’s only a screening tool, not a diagnosis.”

‘Volunteers shouldn’t risk themselves for a photo op’

Speaking on public donations to frontliners, the health minister discouraged volunteers from entering quarantine centres to document the distribution of aid.

He said there were incidents where donors insisted that volunteers take photos of them handing over donations to recipients.

“It is not as simple as taking a photo because volunteers will need to go inside [quarantine centres], then they’ll have to wear PPE and unnecessarily expose themselves to a positive patient just to take a photo for that person,” he said.

“We do not encourage this. It’s unnecessarily exposing them to infection, and unnecessarily wasting PPE just to take these photos.”

The minister reassured the public that their donations will reach the intended recipients.

He added that all donations should be directed to the COVID-19 Donation Centre at Menglait Sports Complex, which will coordinate and distribute donations to the patients and frontliners.

Members of the public who wish to donate can contact the MOH Emergency Operation Centre (MOHEOC) at 7295712 during working hours.