BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei has reopened businesses and mosques to fully vaccinated individuals as it ushered in the COVID-19 transition phase with 45 new cases on Friday.

The sultanate is officially in the transition period of co-existing with the coronavirus, more than three months after the government reinstated movement control curbs due to a sudden increase in cases fuelled by the Delta variant.

Welcoming the transition phase, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said Brunei residents should not be complacent or “overexcited with the achievement”, but continue to abide by health guidelines before the country can proceed to the endemic stage.

The government plans to lift most COVID restrictions in the endemic phase when at least 80 percent of the population is fully jabbed and the healthcare system is not on the verge of collapse from a spike in ICU admissions.

Brunei is on course to hit the 80 percent vaccination target by the end of the year as 74.1 percent of the population has completed the two-dose regimen, while 92.4 percent has taken at least one jab.

In the past 24 hours, five people remain in critical condition at the National Isolation Centre.

A member of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces helps visitors scan the QR code on the BruHealth mobile app outside SOAS Mosque. Photo: Saifulizam Zamhor/The Scoop

During the transition period, only individuals who have received two vaccine doses against COVID can return to workplaces and enter other public venues with the use of vaccine passes available on the BruHealth mobile app.

The minister said those who were inoculated abroad can bring along their vaccination certificates if they wish to enter public premises, adding that businesses should accept foreign vaccination certificates.

In response to a question on whether partially vaccinated employees are allowed to work in outdoor spaces, YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said individuals who have yet to complete their full vaccination can work in isolation at farms, construction sites as well as oil and gas platforms.

The health ministry said there are 159 active clusters with no new clusters detected overnight.

The national COVID tally reached 14,444 and the death toll stood at 57.