BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – About 60.5 percent of the Brunei population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as the country inches closer to the gradual reopening of the economy.

A total of 260,338 people have completed their two-shot regimen while 82.2 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to figures from the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

The proportion of fully jabbed residents was expected to hit 70 percent by the end of this month.

In its pandemic exit plan unveiled last week, the government set its sights on loosening some COVID-19 restrictions when the double-dosed vaccination rate reaches 70 percent and the healthcare system is not under strain.

The health ministry also plans to pause the inoculation of adults at the Indoor Stadium for two weeks in November to accommodate the vaccine rollout for teenagers as it seeks to achieve the 80 percent vaccination target by year’s end.

Outbreak spreads at RIPAS Hospital

During the COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday, the health minister said the COVID-19 outbreak at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital has spread to the labour ward.

In response to a question on whether spouses are allowed to enter delivery rooms if their swab test returned negative results, YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said partners of expectant mothers are currently banned from labour rooms for specific reasons.

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

He said there were instances where pregnant women had to deliver a baby first before taking the antigen rapid test for admission to the hospital.

“Once they gave birth and took the antigen test, then we might find them positive [with COVID]. That’s the problem,” the minister continued.

He added that midwives had to isolate themselves and the outbreak is still ongoing at the hospital.

“In the near future, maybe there will be a way [for spouses to enter delivery rooms] by taking antigen tests, but we’ll have to wait until the [outbreak] is better controlled at the hospital,” YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said.

Last month, the minister said four wards at RIPAS Hospital were placed on lockdown after about 20 coronavirus cases were detected.

Daily cases drop below 100 for second time in three days

The health ministry reported 75 additional coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising the overall tally to 13,321.

This is the second time in three days that daily cases dipped below 100 as the infection rate was said to have stabilised.

Three new clusters accounted for 20 of the new infections, which were linked to the migrant worker dormitories of Syazwanes Contractor, Meem Sdn Bhd and Ban 3 Construction.

Another three cases were imported from Kuala Lumpur and Manila.

There are now 1,508 active cases, including 21 in the intensive care unit.