BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei logged a whopping 504 new COVID infections on Sunday as more positive cases emerge from migrant workers’ dormitories.

Six coronavirus patients also passed away overnight — the highest number of fatalities in a single day — although only five have been categorised as COVID-related deaths. 

Speaking at a daily press briefing, health minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said more than half of the new cases reported on Sunday were from workers’ dormitories, which are often cramped and overcrowded.

Of the four new clusters identified, three originate from staff quarters for construction companies, namely the Jalan Kota Batu Construction, Trentset Construction, and Bato Apoi Construction.

“We hope for cooperation from employers, for them to have SOPs to contain the spread [of COVID-19] in their dormitories. So now this is being monitored by a special agency,” the minister told reporters. 

Coronavirus infections have increased by 49 percent week-on-week: 1,880 cases were recorded from Oct 11-17, compared to 1,264 in the previous week.

Of the 3,144 cases detected in the past fortnight, 51 percent were found in workers’ dorms.

The health minister said the majority of these cases had mild symptoms and were isolating in place, with just 23 brought to government quarantine centres for closer health monitoring.

Since MoH reinstated the home quarantine policy on October 8, a total of 507 people with COVID-19 have been allowed to isolate at home.

Today’s coronavirus numbers 

With the addition of 504 new cases, the number of people with active infections stands at 2,741.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases to date is 10,860. 

Five men and two women, aged between 49 and 73, passed away overnight due to complications from the virus. A sixth person, a 62-year-old woman, also died on Sunday, but the health ministry said she had several other health problems which led to her death. 

To date, 49 people in Brunei have died due to a coronavirus infection.

Approximately 75 percent of the population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 51 percent is fully vaccinated.

Responding to a question on whether the government requires 80 percent of the population to be fully vaccinated before restrictions can be lifted, the health minister said a special committee of cabinet ministers has been established to discuss the when the economy can reopen. 

“They’ll discuss the suitability, whether to do it when the vaccination rate reaches 70 percent or 80 percent for two doses… This will be announced to the public, when we reach at least 70 percent fully-vaccinated,” he said.

A healthcare worker swabs a resident in Kg Menunggol before administering a COVID-19 vaccine. The health ministry mobilised mobile vaccination clinics last week to increase vaccination coverage in rural areas. Photo: Courtesy of MoH

Mobile vaccination clinics continue in rural areas

Starting Monday, MoH will be extending mobile vaccination services to Mukim Lamunin in Tutong’s interior and Kg Sungai Asam in Mukim Lumapas for residents of the water village. 

The health ministry started mobilising mobile vaccination clinics last week in an effort to ensure rural residents have access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccination services at Lamunin Health Centre will be operating on October, 18, 20 and 21 from 9am to 2.30pm. 

Meanwhile residents of Kampung Ayer who have not been vaccinated can go to the PAP Hajah Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah Health Centre in Kampung Sungai Asam, where vaccination services will be operational on October 22 and 24 from 9am to 2.30pm.

Residents do not need to book a slot, but they must bring along their identification card/passport, as well as their BruHIMS number if they have one.

A mobile vaccination team will also go house to house to inoculate the elderly and infirm.