BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – New coronavirus cases climbed for the third straight week in Brunei, rising nearly 83 percent with 247 infections.

From January 10-16, the majority of new COVID-19 cases were community transmission (62%) while 38 percent were imported.

Last week’s number of COVID-19 cases was the highest weekly total since the end of November 2021 when the government eased social distancing curbs as part of the country’s shift towards living with the coronavirus.

While the country is reporting an upward trend in coronavirus cases, the seven-day case count only represented 13 percent of peak COVID infections in mid-October.

Brunei has largely kept coronavirus infections at bay after reaching a double-vaccination rate of over 90 percent, but more local and imported cases have emerged since the year 2022 began.

The health ministry had earlier attributed the spike in community cases to social gatherings over the holiday season.

The jump in Omicron infections across the world has further contributed to the growing number of imported cases, despite the sultanate maintaining its strict 21-month travel restrictions.

To date, 19 imported cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant have been detected in Brunei.

The countries of origin for imported COVID-19 cases from January 11-17, 2022. Graphic: Ministry of Health

MoH data also showed an increase in the percentage of people testing positive, with the positivity ratio expanding from 0.86 percent to 1.3 percent week-on-week.

The ministry also administered an average of 3,216 swab tests daily over the past week, up from 2,293 in the week prior.

The hospital bed occupancy rate reached 10.3 percent on Monday, compared to 5.9 percent a week ago.

There are now 347 active cases, including one fully vaccinated patient who requires oxygen supplementation in the intensive care unit.

The overall COVID tally hit 15,901, while the death toll stands at 58.