BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – A 29-year-old mother has died of coronavirus complications, two weeks after giving birth at the National Isolation Centre (NIC).

Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said the mother, identified as Case 777, had developed a lung infection.

After giving birth via caesarian section on August 24, she was placed on a ventilator and heart-lung machine in the intensive care unit before succumbing to the virus.

Two weeks ago, the health minister had said eight pregnant women who tested positive for COVID-19 were receiving treatment at the NIC.

Four women were reported to have given birth at the NIC since the second COVID-19 wave began a month ago, including two who delivered babies on Wednesday.

All the newborn babies have tested negative for COVID-19 thus far, the minister said in a press briefing.

Studies have found that pregnant women are at an increased risk of developing severe illness from the coronavirus.

Fifteen COVID-19 fatalities have been reported since the pandemic began last year.

Source: Ministry of Health, Our World in Data | Graphic: Dr Wee Chian Koh, CSPS

Daily cases at two-week high

Brunei registered 148 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, the highest number of daily cases in two weeks.

The number of new cases fell 32 percent last week, but infections are creeping up again this week.

Asked whether the partial lockdown has had a significant impact in curbing the spread of COVID-19, the minister said it will take a while to see cases maintaining a downward trend.

“From the [COVID-19] curve, we’re actually expecting [cases] to still go up until mid-September. So it’s not a surprise,” YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said after the press briefing.

“At least our R-naught has come down to about 1. So it has worked quite quick. Within less than a month, we managed to bring the R-naught [ranging] from 3 to 5 to 1. So I think the partial lockdown helped a lot,” he added.

Brunei has been in a lockdown since August 7 after the first community cases were detected in 15 months.

Source: Ministry of Health, Our World in Data, Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker | Graphic: Dr Wee Chian Koh, CSPS

Dr Hjh Anie Haryani Hj Abd Rahman, director of Environmental Health Services, said “a lot” of the confirmed cases in the current outbreak were linked to household and workplace clusters.

“How much more are you expecting from lockdown if the cases are mostly from households and workplaces?,” she said.

“In fact, we are doing quite well. We are maintaining the number of cases and it’s not shooting up dramatically,” she added.

The health ministry identified two new clusters on Thursday, which were linked to Patients 3788 (7 cases) and 3598 (4 cases).

The majority (100) of the new infections are unlinked to the existing 58 clusters.

A total of 164 people were discharged overnight, including 106 asymptomatic cases who completed their 14-day home isolation.

Eight people remain in critical condition, while 28 require close monitoring in the ICU.

The number of active cases dropped to 1,497 on Thursday from 1,514 a day earlier.

Sengkurong health centre nurse tests positive

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham confirmed that a nurse at Jubli Perak Sengkurong Health Centre has tested positive for COVID-19 following a viral message circulating on social media.

Close contacts of the healthcare worker have been ordered to undergo quarantine and testing.

The minister also advised patients and visitors to the health centre not to panic, while those who show signs of infection should get tested immediately.

He added that disinfecting of health facilities are conducted at a set schedule and services are still running at the Sengkurong health centre.