Brunei Darussalam’s COVID-19 death toll has doubled to seven cases following four coronavirus-related fatalities that were reported in the span of three consecutive days this week, where all of the deceased have been individuals past the age of 50 years old.

The last recorded fatality prior to the resurgence of the coronavirus on 7 August was the third fatality which took place more than a year ago in June of 2020. 

Image: Yusri Adanan

The sultanate’s COVID-19 related death toll began to climb on Tuesday, where Health Minister, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar announced that two locals have passed away due to complications caused by the virus. 

The deceased were Case 609 an 85 year old local woman who was admitted to the National Isolation Centre (NIC) on 14 August 2021 and Case 1629, a 69 year old local man who was admitted to the NIC on 22 August 2021. 

“Both patients suffered from lung infections after being infected with COVID-19,” explained the minister. 

Image: Yusri Adanan

On Wednesday, another positive case passed away, Case 656 who was 55 year old man that was reported on 15 August 2021. Like the previous two, this case also suffered from a lung infection after being infected with COVID-19.

The fourth fatality was reported yesterday, Thursday, where the deceased was Case 869, a 51 year old local man who was reported on 17th August 2021. As predicted from the three prior cases, Case 869 suffered from a lung infection after contracting the virus. 

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The grave news comes at a series of back-to-back reports of more than a hundred new cases daily, with 106 new cases reported on Thursday, leading the total number of COVID-19 cases in Brunei to enter the two thousand mark with about 2,265 cases. 

There have also been 42 active clusters since the resurgence of the coronavirus was reported on 7th August, inclusive of the two new clusters that were discovered yesterday, Cluster 1888 that contains 11 cases and Cluster 2085 that contains eight cases. 

“There are 42 additional new cases to 13 of the existing active clusters… Meanwhile, 47 cases are still being investigated to determine the source of the infection.,” added the minister. 

Forty-one cases were also reported to have recovered yesterday bringing the total of recovered cases to 578 cases. This means, a total of 1,678 active cases have been recorded in Brunei Darussalam. 

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Among the active cases, five cases are in critical condition, where four cases require ventilators and one case requires the help of an additional heart/lung machine (ECMO). Meanwhile, 30 other cases have been admitted at the Intensive Care Unit for close monitoring. 

Minister confirms the presence of the Delta variant

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During the press conference on Thursday, the Health Minister also confirmed the presence of the Delta variant in the sultanate, a result from the genotyping or sequencing tests of several samples of local cases that was sent overseas. 

“The results from the laboratory testing have shown that all of the 20 samples that was sent are of the Delta variant,” he said, officially confirming the minister’s prior suspicions of the Delta variant being present in the country. 

“The Delta variant is known to be 2-3 times more infectious that other variants. However, the prevention and control measures of any COVID-19 variant remains the same,” he explained. 

These measures include getting the COVID-19 vaccine, wearing face mask when outdoors especially in crowded areas, frequent hand washing with soap and water or by using hand sanitizer. 

“Abide by the instructions that have been issued to ensure we can together control the spread the COVID-19 infection in the country. Teranah tah dirumah,” he added. 

Breakdown of positive cases in Brunei

The minister also shared that about 70% of active COVID-19 cases in Brunei are in Category 1 meaning that they are asymptomatic while 18% of positive cases are in Category 2 indicating that they are experiencing symptoms however are not experiencing any infection in the lungs or pneumonia. 

Meanwhile 6% of cases are in Category 3, indicating that they have symptoms as well as signs of infection in the lungs or pneumonia. Five per cent (5%) of patients have been designated as Category 4, which are cases that are experiencing an infection in the lungs and requires additional oxygen. 

Less than one per cent (0.8%) of cases are in Category 5 which are critical cases in which the virus has caused problems in several organs in the body. These cases usually require the help of a breathing machine (ventilation) or heart/lung machine (ECMO), he explained. 

“With that, 8 cases are of pregnant women who are currently being treated at the National Isolation Centre, whereas two more cases have recovered,” he went on to say. 

He then shared that on 24 August 2021, one case who was also a pregnant woman safely delivered a baby boy at the NIC, with the mother having to undergo a caesarean delivery to “reduce the chance of adverse effect from COVID-19 infection”. 

“At this time, both the mother and child are in good health,” added YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham. 

Image: Shutterstock

In line with this, he also revealed that only 75% of pregnant women that have been registered for the National Vaccine Programme have turned up to get the COVID-19. This number represents 1,701 pregnant women out of 2,270. 

“The existing Government Policy has allowed pregnant women in the country to get the COVID- 19 vaccine to protect themselves and the unborn child. Pregnant women are included in those who are at high risk of severe side effects from the COVID-19 infection,” he said. 

“Pregnant women are advised to get the COVID- 19 vaccine injection to protect themselves and their families,” he added. 

Lastly, in this regard, YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham also revealed that the the Ministry of Health have listed the types of Antigen Rapid Test (ART) test kits that have been approved for use in Brunei Darussalam. 

“Companies looking to acquire these ART test kits for sale to the public can refer to the list that is shown on the screen now. This list is also made available on the Ministry of Health’s website,” he said. 

For further information and latest updates, please visit the official website of the Ministry of Health at www.moh.gov.bn or through the BruHealth App. Any inquiries on COVID-19 can also be directed to the Health Advice Line 148 or emailed to: askhal@moh.gov.bn

This article was first published on 28 August 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 156

THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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