BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – New coronavirus infections continued to level off in Brunei last week, despite the easing of most domestic restrictions over two weeks ago.

The COVID case count stayed low at 52 over the past seven days, compared to the lowest level of 45 in the preceding week.

Weekly cases have been hovering below 100 since mid-December, prompting the government to further loosen public health control measures and treat the coronavirus as endemic.

However, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID grew to 0.58 percent as opposed to 0.36 percent in the week prior. The seven-day average positivity rate remained below one percent from the beginning of December.

Fewer tests were also administered last week, with an average of 1,988 tests each day – a 14 percent decline week-on-week.

Meanwhile, a quarter of last week’s confirmed infections (13) were detected among inbound travellers, down from 15 in the previous week.

The sultanate had reported a rise in imported cases two weeks ago as the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant has triggered the highest number of global infections since the pandemic began.

Daily new COVID cases worldwide crossed one million for the first time last Thursday.

While domestic curbs have been relaxed, the government remained wary of Omicron’s threat and decided to put on hold plans to reopen borders after eight cases of the highly transmissible strain were confirmed in Brunei. The sultanate has banned non-essential travel for over 21 months.

On Monday, schools welcomed back Years 10-13 students in person after the second COVID wave forced a five-month closure.

During the COVID press briefing, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar said none of the 9,790 students returned positive antigen rapid test results on their first day of school.

Fully vaccinated teachers and students are permitted to attend in-person classes, while the rest will continue virtual or home-based learning.

This file photo shows stalls being set up at the weekly Bandarku Ceria event in January 2021. Vendors will be allowed to conduct business at Bandarku Ceria from January 9, 2022. Photo: The Scoop

Bandarku Ceria stalls, Tamu Tutong allowed to reopen

The weekly Bandarku Ceria stalls and Pasarneka & Tamu Tutong Complex will reopen later this week, the home affairs minister announced on Monday.

Appearing alongside the health minister at the news conference, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Hj Awg Abu Bakar Hj Apong said businesses can set up stalls at the Jalan Bendahara parking lot opposite the Royal Regalia Museum during the Bandarku Ceria event from January 9.

The weekly Pasarneka & Tamu Tutong Complex will resume operations on January 6.

Only double-vaccinated vendors registered with Bandar Seri Begawan or Tutong municipal departments are allowed to conduct their business. Vendors must also produce negative antigen rapid test results before they can enter the premises.

A maximum of two people can run each stall at the Pasarneka and Tamu Tutong Complex.