BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei’s Omicron-fuelled third wave has “most likely” reached its peak as the sultanate began to see a dip in COVID-19 cases over the past two days, the health minister said Wednesday.

Holding his COVID press briefing, YB Dato Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said the number of coronavirus cases have been “stabilising” in the last few days.

“It seems like we’ve reached the peak of the epidemic and we’re hoping that cases will [continue] to decrease in the next one to two weeks,” he said.

The minister said the effective reproduction number (Rt) — which measures how transmissible a disease is at a given time– has also dropped from 2 to 1.09. This suggests that someone with COVID will infect one other person on average.

In the week ending March 6, Brunei reported a record weekly case count of 29,402 — a 20 percent jump on the previous week.

However, the doubling rate — the amount of time it takes for the COVID caseload to double — has slowed from nine days (recorded on Feb 20) to 15 days as of March 9.

On Wednesday, Brunei surpassed 100,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in 2020. This means that nearly one in four people have been infected with COVID in the country.

The majority (73%) of confirmed coronavirus infections were recorded in the third wave.

Despite a sharp rise in infections, the health ministry did not report a spike in the number of severe cases and COVID-related deaths in the Omicron wave.

MoH last week said Omicron’s milder symptoms and Brunei’s high vaccination rate had contributed to a decrease in severe cases and deaths compared to the previous two waves.

Some 17 coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed in the third wave, down from 46 in the Delta wave. The death toll stands at 75.