BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei’s new coronavirus cases reached a record high today, far exceeding the level seen last year when the nation was in the throes of the Delta wave.

The sultanate reported 2,988 new daily infections on Friday, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, topping the previous day’s tally of 2,015.

Six deaths were also reported in the past 72 hours, but all patients were suffering from underlying health conditions, the Ministry of Health said. Four were fully vaccinated, while two were partially vaccinated.

In the past 5 days, the country has recorded 8,072 new coronavirus infections, amounting to 26 percent of all known domestic cases to date.

Brunei joins neighbors Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia in grappling with the worst daily caseloads of the pandemic. New infections in Thailand rose to a five-month high last week, while Vietnam reported record cases on Friday.

Local authorities have taken the surge in their stride as the country’s high vaccination rate — nearly 95% of the total population have completed their regime and half the adults have received booster shots — has kept hospital occupancy rates manageable.

Instances of serious illness and death have also been much lower than during last year’s surge, when the delta variant stretched the nation’s health services to its limits.

Almost 99% of daily cases involve patients who show mild or no symptoms, according to the health ministry.

The bed occupancy rate at government isolation centres stood at 10.6 percent, with the majority of COVID-positive individuals allowed to isolate at home.

Of the 11,371 active cases on Friday, seven people were listed in categories 4 and 5, where patients require oxygen support and are treated in critical care.

Brunei has reported 30,587 coronavirus infections to date and 108 deaths.