BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei marked a grim milestone of surpassing 10,000 COVID-19 cases, with a new daily record high of 423 infections on Friday.

It is the first time the country reported more than 400 new cases in a single day, smashing the previous record of 381 infections set five days ago.

The number of active cases also jumped to the highest level of 2,501, while the cumulative tally stands at 10,251.

The health ministry attributed the spike in COVID-19 cases to cramped migrant worker dormitories and household clusters in the last fortnight.

Over 60 percent of confirmed cases in the previous week were linked to foreign worker housing clusters.

A large new cluster of 143 new infections emerged Friday at the worker dormitories of Swee Sdn Bhd, one of Brunei’s biggest construction companies.

The foreign worker accommodation of Nurisman Sdn Bhd was identified as another new cluster with three cases.

In the last seven days, nearly half of the 29 new clusters involved staff quarters.

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

During the COVID-19 press briefing, Health minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said migrant workers’ accommodation makes it easier for the virus to spread among dormitory residents.

He said the health ministry is working with other government agencies to determine the feasibility of positive cases isolating at the dormitories, instead of placing them at designated isolation facilities.

Driven by the Delta variant, this week’s coronavirus case count surged 57 percent despite the country being in a partial lockdown for 10 weeks.

Brunei averaged 255 daily infections over the past week, up from 162 in the preceding week.

The weekly proportion of people testing positive for COVID-19 also hit a new high of 4.85 percent, as opposed to 3.57 percent in the previous week.

Moreover, the official death toll reached 44 on Friday after MoH confirmed that a 77-year-old man had died of COVID-19 complications.

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

Brunei starts administering booster shots for frontliners

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said the health ministry has started administering COVID-19 booster jabs to frontline workers.

“This is an additional protective measure for those at high risk of COVID-19 infection, he said.

The rollout of booster shots will be done in phases, with frontline workers the first group to receive a third vaccine dose.

During the first phase of Brunei’s COVID-19 vaccination drive that began on April 3, frontliners were offered either Sinopharm or Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs.

The minister previously said individuals who took different vaccines as their first and second doses can get mRNA vaccines as booster shots.

Those who received a second dose in May 2021 will be given an appointment to get their booster jab via SMS to the mobile number registered in their BruHIMS account.

As of Thursday, 74.9 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose while 49.4 percent completed their two-shot regimen.

Meanwhile, MoH has shortened the operating hours of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital’s swab centre from 8am to 8pm daily starting October 16 as fewer people are getting tested at night since Operasi Pulih began on October 4.

Another 29 people were caught breaking the curfew from 8pm to 4am today, even though the government increased the fine to $500.

A total of 360 violations were found since the night movement restrictions were imposed.