BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei recorded its highest daily tally for new coronavirus cases with 381 cases reported on Sunday.

The health minister said the majority of new infections are close contacts of positive cases, while the source of infection for 126 cases is still under investigation.

Speaking at the daily COIVD-19 press briefing, the health minister said the high number was not surprising, given that many new cases were found among household contacts or in workers’ dormitories.

One of the largest clusters is among workers at Serambangun Industrial Park, where 350 cases have been detected since September 25.

“For example the Serambangun Cluster … They stay in a dormitory where there is no isolation, so it’s easy to spread,” YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said.

“But aside from this, there are still people going out and this is worrying, because some people still don’t understand.” 

The largest active clusters have been found in confined settings such as staff houses, offshore oil rigs and prisons.

The largest cluster to date is the offshore platform Champion 7 (and related vessels) which comprises 426 cases, although no new infections have been reported there since September 20.

The Al-Islah rehab centre, a detention facility for drug offenders, recorded  141 cases, while the cluster at the Hua Ho Manggis staff house has 122 cases.

MoH said it is conducting weekly surveillance testing in high density areas with the aim of detecting positive cases earlier. So far, “sweep and swab” operations have found at least 113 COVID-19 cases. 

The number of COVID-19 cases reported in the two months since the second wave began is 8,641.

However, the majority of these cases have recovered, and the number of people with active infections stands at 2,226.

Brunei has recorded 38 COVID-related deaths in the second wave.

Another COVID patient, a 40-year-old man, passed away on Sunday, but the cause of his death is still under investigation. 

Labi clinic to vaccinate rural residents

Labi Health Clinic in Belait will begin offering vaccination services on Monday to ensure residents in rural areas of Mukim Labi, Mukim Bukit Sawat and surrounding areas have access to COVID-19 vaccines.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said discussions with grassroot leaders revealed that people living in remote areas have difficulty getting to vaccination centres which is why many are still unvaccinated.

The Labi clinic will be open from October 11-13 from 9am to 3pm, and residents can walk-in or reserve their slot here.

The minister said the target is to vaccinate 500 people in the area, one of the more rural and sparsely-populated parts of Brunei. 

He added that a mobile vaccination team will also be available for those who cannot attend the clinic, such as the elderly or people with chronic health issues. 

Those who cannot make it to the Labi Health Clinic on these three days should inform their village head so arrangements can be made for the mobile vaccination team to visit their respective homes.

As of October 9, 72 percent of Brunei’s population (328,431 people) has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 47 percent (211,380 people) is fully vaccinated.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said based on the 2020 population estimate, there are approximately 20,000 eligible adults left to vaccinate.

The remaining 105,000 unvaccinated individuals comprise children and adolescents under 18, as well as those who cannot be vaccinated such as the immunocompromised.

The ministry will also be extending vaccination services to other remote areas next week, where many residents have not been inoculated against COVID-19.

Changes to operating hours for vaccination centre

Given the decreasing demand for vaccinations, the health ministry has revised the operating hours at vaccination centres nationwide so that they will close at 6pm starting October 10.

For people who still have yet to receive their first dose, the Indoor Stadium vaccination centre will be open for walk-ins from 8am to 6pm daily.

The walk-ins are open to citizens and permanent residents only, while expats will still need to book an appointment via the BruHealth app.

Sunday vaccination services for companies in the private sector remained unchanged.  

A total of 209 compound fines have been issued to people who have broken the 8pm-4am curfew which began on October 4.