BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei has detected an additional seven Omicron COVID-19 cases, four days after the health ministry confirmed that the fast-spreading variant has reached the sultanate.

Speaking at the COVID press briefing on Monday, Health Minister YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar said all seven new Omicron infections were imported and none were linked to the first Omicron case in Brunei.

A total of 252 coronavirus test samples have been sequenced to identify variants since MoH began genomic sequencing on November 22.

The vast majority (97%) of the sequenced samples were of the Delta strain, which fuelled the country’s second wave of infections in August.

The minister said genome sequencing in Brunei has cut short the amount of time waiting for confirmation of COVID variants from overseas.

“Gene sequencing takes 2-3 months if we send them abroad. It now takes around 10-14 days in Brunei,” he added.

YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham urged the public not to panic with the increase in Omicron cases, but to continue complying with health guidelines and take their third vaccine dose once they are eligible.

Some 14.8 percent of the population has received a booster shot, while 92.9 percent is double-vaccinated.

The number of imported coronavirus cases has risen over the past week, accounting for 15 (33%) of the 45 weekly COVID infections. In contrast, only one imported case was reported in the week prior.

The growing number of infected travellers comes a week before Brunei resumes international air travel on January 1, 2022.

Weekly COVID case count hits new low

Brunei maintained its downward trend of new COVID infections in the last seven days, despite reopening its economy and entering the “early endemic” phase on December 15.

The weekly caseload of 45 is the lowest since the second wave of infections started and represented a 17 percent decline from the previous week.

However, the seven-day average positivity rate rose to 0.36 percent from the lowest level of 0.17 percent in the preceding week.

The overall COVID tally reached 15,548 and the official death toll stands at 57.