BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei reported a steady decline in active COVID-19 cases on Monday, falling to the lowest level of since August 19 as the infection rate continued its downward trend.

It was also the first time in nearly three months that the active case count dipped below 1,000.

The health ministry confirmed 82 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, with daily infections staying under 100 for the third straight day.

Over the past week, there were 93 new infections on average each day — a 36 percent decrease from the week prior.

Health Minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said Brunei appeared to have the coronavirus under control but warned against complacency, especially when the sultanate is preparing to shift from COVID pandemic to endemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, so we need to stay vigilant especially now that we are heading towards the endemic phase.

“What we don’t want is for cases to rise again and our hospitals exceeding their capacity when we [reopen the economy] during the endemic phase,” he said during the COVID press briefing.

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

The sultanate is expected to relax COVID curbs when the double-dose vaccination rate hits 70 percent by the end of this month.

Brunei has been under a partial lockdown for over 13 weeks, with the government further tightening movement restrictions last month by imposing a night curfew that had been extended until November 14.

As of Sunday, 82.7 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose and 66.9 percent is fully jabbed.

Severe cases fall to lowest rate since August 18

The higher vaccination rate has also translated to fewer critical patients.

There were 13 COVID patients warded in the intensive care unit on Monday, the lowest number since August 18.

Among the elderly, 91.2 percent is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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

The mobile vaccination team will be deployed to inoculate homebound individuals in Brunei-Muara, Belait and Temburong district this week.

Asked whether home vaccination services can be provided to autistic teenagers, the health minister said a special lane for adolescents with special needs has been set up at the Indoor Stadium.

However, parents or guardians can inform teachers that their children are not suitable to take their jabs in unfamiliar settings and the ministry will arrange vaccination at home.

“This is not for everyone so it’s only for those who really need it. So I hope parents or guardians don’t misuse this,” said YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham.

Brunei began its two-week vaccine rollout for teenagers aged 12-17 on Monday.

Two new clusters emerge

The health ministry detected two new clusters overnight, including the staff house of Adinin Works and Engineering onJalan Sungai Pandan in Belait.

Two sub-districts — Mukim Kilanas and Mukim Sengkurong — were identified as COVID-19 hotspots after recording more than 80 cases in the past seven days.

Responding to a question on cases of COVID reinfection in Brunei, the minister said two people were infected with the virus twice.

Both cases were said to be unvaccinated but have since recovered.

The overall COVID tally stands at 13,864.