The number of COVID-19 recoveries in the sultanate continues to rise as seven more individuals have recovered from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 52.
The number of confirmed cases, on the other hand, remains to decline, with only two new cases announced by Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar during a press conference, bringing the national tally of COVID-19 infections to 131.
The minister then shared that three children that have tested positive for the coronavirus, namely case 32 (two-years-old), case 40 (nine-months-old) and case 62 (three-years-old) have been cured of the infection and have returned home.
– Case 130, is a 39-year-old local man who took part in the recent Kalimantan Bike Week event together with 32 of his friends.
He has undergone self-isolation since his arrival back to the country on March 16. He developed a persistent cough and has undergone laboratory tests for COVID-19 on March 30.
– Case 131, is 28 years old and has undergone self-isolation since his arrival into Brunei from the United States of America via Singapore onboard Royal Brunei Airline flight BI424 (seat 28A) on March 16.
He started developing symptoms (minor shortness of breath) on March 21 and only submitted himself for COVID-19 laboratory testing on March 30 after his symptoms worsened.
Furthermore, currently, there are 78 cases that are still being treated at the National Isolation Centre and of these, three cases are still in critical condition requiring respiratory assistance, while one still requires heart/lung machine (ECMO) assistance.
As of today, 692 individuals are undergoing quarantine in accordance with the Infectious Diseases Act (Chapter 204) and 1,588 individuals have completed their quarantine and are in stable condition.
Since the emergence of COVID-19 in early January, a total of 6,799 laboratory tests for COVID-19 have been conducted.
“MoH would also like to inform the public that today, laboratory tests sampling for COVID-19 to all those who have returned to the country after international travels and who are currently undergoing self-isolation in facilities provided by the government have all been completed,” the minister added.
Health Info Brunei updates
During the press conference, YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham went on to share with the public updates from the Health Info Brunei web platform, which provides an overview of the coronavirus situation in Brunei.
This information, he added, can be compared with the global as well as the regional overview of countries affected by COVID-19, creating an understanding of how well the sultanate manages the pandemic.
According to the health minister, in the global and regional context, Brunei has done well with “flattening the curve”, compared to countries in Europe and neighbouring countries, with the sultanate having the least number of COVID-19 cases among the affected Southeast Asian nations.
YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham then shared how the policy responses that have been rolled out by the government in the past few weeks have affected the rate of secondary transmission of the COVID-19 virus in Brunei.
“Since the first case arrived in Brunei, it took us five days to bring the transmission rate (R(t)) down to below one – which is indicative of the rate of transmission being under control within our health system,” he said.
“You can see how every directive that has been rolled out has helped bring the transmission rate down, and from this, you can understand how we are managing this pandemic as a government,” the minister added.
In regards to the infection trend of COVID-19 in Brunei, he said that the Artificial Intelligence (AI) system of the Health Brunei Info has forecasted the pandemic efficiently within the Bruneian context.
“The AI’s prediction is actually close to our actual experience (with COVID-19), and it has the ability to predict the spread of infection within the next few days.
“This information will actually help the health system brace itself, at least for the week, in the preparation of medicine, medical equipment or personal protective equipment (PPE) for our front liners,” he added.
Alternatively, members of the public can also get the latest information on the COVID-19 situation in Brunei through the GOV.BN Official channel on Telegram at https://t.me/govbnofficial.
Sick leave eligibility for private-sector employees
Also present during the press conference was Minister of Home Affairs, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong, addressing an issue in regards to sick leave eligibility for private-sector employees.
The minister proceeded to reveal the temporary amendment of the minimum period of service a private sector employee must fulfill to be entitled to sick leave, as stated in the Employment Order 2009.
YB Pehin Dato Hj Abu Bakar then announced that private-sector employees that have reached at least one month of service are now entitled to sick leave following the amendment which has taken effect on March 9 until further notice.
He added that the main purpose of this amendment is to safeguard employees who have not reached a minimum of six months of service that have been imposed unpaid leave when instructed by the government to undergo quarantine or self-isolation.
The minister then called on employers to ensure the wellbeing of their employees, to grant advance leaves for employees that are not protected under this new amendment therefore not qualified for sick leave and to adopt flexible working hours during these trying times.
For more information, employers may contact the Labour Department at 2381848 during working hours or 7298989 outside of working hours.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN