BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The health ministry reported 201 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, surging 62 percent compared to the previous day.

This is the second time in three days the number of daily new infections crossed the 200 mark as another five clusters were identified.

Brunei has been averaging more than 100 cases a day over the past five weeks.

The sultanate is grappling with the fast-spreading Delta variant in its worst COVID-19 outbreak yet, recording 5,247 infections since the second wave started on August 7.

In comparison, 139 coronavirus cases were detected in two months during the first wave last year.

There are now 100 active clusters, including four new household clusters and one additional workplace cluster at Eden Garden Contractor.

Source: Ministry of Health | Graphic: Dr Wee Chian Koh

Two more COVID-19 patients die

The health ministry confirmed that another two COVID-19 patients have passed away but their deaths were not attributed to the virus.

The two fatalities – a 68-year-old man and 58-year-old man – were said to have underlying health conditions.

Brunei’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 26.

Ninety-three people were discharged in the past 24 hours, taking the number of active cases to 1,779.

Eight people remain in a critical condition and another 26 people require oxygen supplementation in the intensive care unit.

‘We want to avoid a full lockdown’

Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar has called on the public to only buy what they need and not hoard supplies following reports of panic buying.

A day after the minister flagged the possibility of a full lockdown if COVID-19 cases continue to surge, he said the government wants to avoid a full lockdown unless the need arises.

“Maybe because they [people engaged in panic buying] are afraid of a lockdown, but as I have said yesterday, we want to avoid a full lockdown if it’s possible.

“We are still trying our best to ensure the situation is controlled. And the most important thing is to make sure that people are staying at home instead of buying a lot,” he added.

The minister Tuesday slammed COVID-19 rule breakers who held social gatherings and made non-essential outings, which may have contributed to the rising number of infections.

Brunei is expected to remain in a partial lockdown until at least October 3.

Asked for an update on the prosecution of people who breached their quarantine orders, YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said there has been a delay in the court proceedings as judicial officers are working from home.

“So far, four people were brought to court. I was informed that the total number of [quarantine violators] who will be brought to court is 47 people as of today [Wednesday],” he said.