BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — All Brunei residents will be required to use the BruHealth contact tracing app if they wish to go out for essential purposes from 6pm on September 25, the health ministry announced on Friday.
Individuals who do not have BruHealth must be accompanied by someone who has installed the app on their mobile phones, such as their caregivers, employers, managers or friends.
During a press briefing, the health minister said the BruHealth mandate is enforced to better control the movement of residents.
Anyone who fails to comply with the directive will be subject to legal action, said YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar.
The minister said there were instances where members of the public said they do not have their mobile phones with them when they were asked to show their BruHealth codes during police roadblocks.
“Whether it’s true or not, I’m not sure. Some people were also using another person’s [BruHealth] code, they took a [screenshot] of it.
“To ensure that it is more controlled, we want to make sure the person going out has BruHealth,” he added.
BruHealth was launched in May last year to allow authorities to track potential carriers of COVID-19 as users were required to scan QR codes every time they enter business premises.
Massive queues form for walk-in jabs at Indoor Stadium
The health ministry is expected to make changes to walk-in vaccinations for those who have yet to receive their first dose after massive queues were reported at the Indoor Stadium on Friday.
Overcrowding at the vaccination site prompted the health ministry to call on members of the public to stop flocking to the Indoor Stadium more than an hour before walk-in jabs started at 2.30pm.
A total of 1,300 slots were allocated for the walk-in vaccination service, which is available every Friday from 2.30pm to 8pm for individuals without a BruHealth an BruHIMS account.
However, the number of people who showed up far exceeded that capacity as queues stretched as far as the roadside kerb outside the Indoor Stadium.
YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said his ministry is looking at extending the operating hours of the vaccination centre on Friday or segregating the groups according to sectors, companies or residential area to better manage the crowd.
“Everyone will get the vaccine. Like I said before, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Whether you are a citizen or non-citizen, whoever resides in Brunei will receive vaccines.
“If we don’t [vaccinate] some groups, then it’ll be hard to curb the spread,” he added.
Three COVID-19 positive cases were detected from an ad-hoc screening during the walk-in jabs at Indoor Stadium.
The minister said individuals without BruHealth can still take their vaccines despite the new mandate.
They can inform law enforcers that they are the way to receive their jabs if they encounter a police roadblock, he said.
“With the new directive for people to have the BruHealth app, hopefully, they will buy new phones or just switch on their phones and they can make [vaccine] appointments like the others,” he added.
126 new cases reported, three more patients die
A total of 263 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases to 5,960.
The number of active clusters rose to 103 after five new household clusters were reported.
Two clusters — Dragon Boat and 1387 — have been closed as no new cases were detected in the clusters for 28 days.
The health ministry also confirmed the deaths of three COVID-19 patients on Friday.
One of the victims, a 32-year-old woman, died of coronavirus complications.
Two other fatalities — an 84-year-old man and 42-year-old man — had underlying health issues and both cases were not classified as coronavirus-related deaths.
The number of active cases stands at 1,898 after 127 people were discharged overnight.
Seven people remain in critical condition, and another 31 people required close monitoring in the intensive care unit.