The Minister of Health has called upon health workers in the private sector as well as those who have retired to join the front lines and assist the ministry as they continue to deal with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the sultanate.

Speaking during a press conference on Thursday, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar revealed that in light of the current surge of COVID-19 cases, the ministry and its workforce are being stretched to the limit.

“Even with a number of the ministry’s health services being closed temporarily, with doctors and nurses from these divisions being deployed to assist in different areas namely to conduct swab tests, to assist at the National Isolation Centre as well as to assist in the National Vaccination Programme, it may still not be enough”, he said.

The NIC in particular, according to the minister is almost full as it currently houses 218 active cases. Due to this, the ministry will be looking into transferring cases with mild symptoms to a separate location.

“We have about 600 doctors, everyone is all hands on deck. These are quite challenging times, the work is different now and it is 24/7. Understandably, everyone is left on edge,” he said, while admitting to “some shortcomings” in the vaccination and swab test processes.

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However, the ministry is hoping to remedy these issues with the addition of medical volunteers from the private healthcare sector as well as healthcare workers who have retired and are able bodied.

“In terms of vaccinations, our capacity at the moment is around 5,000 daily but we want to be able to increase this number to at least 10,000 per day. So we can’t say how much extra hands we need but the more medical volunteers, the better,” he added.

YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham also shared that the ministry is also hoping for medical students such as those at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s Institute of Health Sciences as well as nurses such as those in the Brunei Darussalam Nursing Association would also be able to join the front lines as volunteers.

FILE PHOTO: A health worker prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Samutprakran Province, Thailand. Image: Xinhua

Those aforementioned healthcare workers can call 7455109 to become volunteers for the Ministry of Health. Members of the public who wish to make donations can do so by contacting the MOH Emergency Operation Centre (MOHEOC) at 7295712 during office hours only.

During a question and answer session with the media, the minister went on to address a number of public concern particularly of the “shortcomings” that was mentioned earlier.

With the rising number of daily cases and close contacts, he revealed that the ministry is looking into conducting Drive-Thru Swab Tests, however discussions are still ongoing in terms of their location and tests are being done for individuals conducting the swab tests.

“We have added the number of swabbers, even the mobile swabbers have increased, from five teams to 20 but we need to train our staff first for the Drive-Thru Swab Tests as not just anyone can do it,” he explained.



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