BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Nearly 7,000 migrant workers have been tested for COVID-19 in a mass swabbing operation as cases linked to dormitories continued to grow.

Health Minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said 215 people tested positive for the coronavirus during mass swabbing at more than 15 worker dormitories in the past month.

During his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday, he said foreign workers were given a swabbing schedule at their living quarters.

The country has been battling a spike in cases at cramped and overcrowded migrant worker dormitories over the last three weeks, prompting the government to conduct surveillance testing and set up a committee to monitor the welfare and living conditions of workers.

About 40 of the 170 active clusters are linked to the staff quarters, including a new cluster at I-Con staff house reported on Tuesday.

At least 2,000 reported cases are linked to worker’s dormitories, although MoH has not given an exact figure.

Health minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham expects the number of COVID-19 infections at worker dorms to continue rising in the coming days as the close contacts of positive cases will undergo testing.

More mass testing operations will also be conducted at other high-density housing areas and neighbourhoods classified as COVID-19 red zones, he added.

Cases top 200 for fourth consecutive day

Daily coronavirus infections hit 211 on Tuesday, the fourth straight day that cases surpassed 200.

All but one of the new cases were local transmissions, with the other imported from the Philippines.

The worker dormitories of Swee Sdn Bhd – one of the Brunei’s largest construction companies — accounted for 40 percent of new cases on Tuesday.

The Swee cluster is now the second largest active cluster with 251 cases, behind the Serambangun Industrial Park cluster of 359 infections.

Another COVID-19 patient, a 61-year-old woman, died overnight but her death was not attributed to the virus as she had underlying health issues. The official COVID death toll stands at 53.

Among the 2,465 active cases, seven people are in a critical condition and 19 require close monitoring in the intensive case unit.

The health minister said over 96 percent (41,951 people) of the elderly population has received at least one vaccine dose, while 87 percent is fully vaccinated.

Older age groups are at high risk of dying from the coronavirus, with the majority of Brunei’s  COVID fatalities involving seniors.

As of Monday, 81.3 percent of Brunei residents have taken at least one jab and 57.2 percent have completed their two-dose regimen.

The health ministry opened walk-in vaccinations for all residents on Tuesday as it seeks to ramp up the vaccination rate before gradually lifting COVID restrictions.