BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Law enforcers caught 50 people violating the first night of Brunei’s two-week COVID-19 curfew as the total coronavirus case count topped 8,000 on Tuesday.
On-the-spot fines worth $100 were handed to the 50 curfew breakers for leaving their homes from 8pm to 4am, the health minister said in his daily COVID-19 press briefing.
YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said most of the offenders were in the Brunei-Muara and Belait districts.
He reminded the public to comply with the directive so that authorities can limit the spread of the virus in the next two weeks.
“If people still want to go out, then it’s difficult [to control the outbreak]. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you can still be a carrier and infect others,” he added.
The government imposed a curfew on Monday after reporting a surge in coronavirus cases over the past week, despite a partial lockdown for eight weeks.
Vaccination rate slowing down
Brunei’s COVID-19 vaccination rate appears to be slowing down, dropping three percent week-on-week.
In the past seven days, the health ministry administered an average 6,804 vaccine doses each day compared to 7,026 in the preceding week.
The average number of vaccine doses given falls short of the government’s target of 10,000 a day as the country aims to inoculate at least 80 percent of the population by the end of this year.
YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said there were fewer people failing to attend their vaccination appointments on Monday but many vaccine slots were vacant.
Thousands of this week’s vaccine slots are still available on the BruHealth app.
The ministry is currently offering Astrazeneca, Moderna and Sinopharm vaccines donated by countries including Australia, China, Japan and Singapore.
As of Monday, 68.4 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose and 44.5 percent completed their full vaccination regimen.
Responding to a question on when will Brunei start delivering booster jabs, the minister said frontline workers who received the Sinopharm vaccine in April will be the first group to be given a third dose.
“It will start in stages, it’s not like a mass vaccination. What’s more important now is we want to get the population fully vaccinated. The earlier we reach the 80 percent target, the better,” he said.
YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham previously said booster jabs would be administered at least six months after the second vaccine dose.
The sultanate also plans to inoculate children and adolescents aged 12 to 17 before the end of 2021 to increase the vaccination rate.
Overall COVID-19 tally tops 8,000
The health ministry detected 140 additional coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising the cumulative confirmed infections to 8,044.
All but one of the new cases were local transmissions, with the other involving a transport operator who tested positive for COVID-19 during a cross-border trip from Limbang.
Brunei also marked the sixth straight day of record high active cases at 2,350.
There are currently 144 active clusters after four new household clusters were reported.
Two clusters — Department of Immigration and National Registration (71 cases) and Samima (33 cases) — have been closed as no new infections were linked to the clusters in the past 28 days.
Three mukim were identified as COVID-19 red zones due to a high number of infections in the past seven days, including Mukim Berakas A (112 cases), Mukim Pekan Tutong (130 cases) and Mukim Kuala Belait (118 cases).