Minister of Health YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar during a press conference at the Ministry of Health. Image: Wardi Wasil

The Ministry of Health announced five new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in a press conference on Wednesday, bringing the national total to 109.

This new development was announced by the Minister of Health, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar, who was joined by Second Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Erywan Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Hj Mohd Yusof.

A number of the new cases have been connected to confirmed cases of individuals that have recently returned to Brunei from abroad, namely from the United Kingdom and Surabaya, Indonesia.

The Arrivals hall at Brunei International Airport. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Case details
Case 105 is a local man aged 17 years old and is related to the family cluster travelling to Surabaya, Indonesia that returned to Brunei on March 20 onboard Royal Brunei Airlines flight BI796.

Case 106 is a local woman aged 23 years old who returned to Brunei from the United Kingdom on March 23 onboard Royal Brunei Airline flight BI004 (seat 39B). She started developing symptoms (headache) on March 24.

Case 107 is aged 51 years old and is a foreigner working in the sultanate. Case 107 returned to Brunei from Surabaya, Indonesia on March 20 onboard Royal Brunei Airlines BI796. However, this case did not join the group cluster with cases 91, 93, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 102, 104 and 105.

Case 108 is aged 72 and is related to the cluster with cases 73, 80, 88, 101 and 109. He returned to Brunei from the United Kingdom with case 73 on March 16 and his initial laboratory results was negative. He does not show any symptoms of infection.

Case 109, aged 33 years old is related to cases 73, 80, 88, 101 and 108. He does not have any travel history and started developing symptoms (fever and flu) on March 23.

The health minister shared that out of the 107 cases that are currently being treated at the National Isolation Centre, one case remains in critical condition, requiring the aid of a breathing machine as well as a heart/lung machine (ECMO).

Meanwhile, three cases are still in intensive care.

As of today, 1,211 individuals are undergoing quarantine in accordance with the Infectious Diseases Act (Chapter 204) and 655 individuals have completed their quarantine.

Since the emergence of COVID-19 in early January, a total of 4,084 laboratory tests for COVID-19 have been conducted.

For further information and latest developments, visit MoH’s website at www.moh.gov.bn or call its 24-hour Health Advice Line 148.

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.

Status of Bruneians abroad amid COVID-19 outbreak
During the press conference, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Erywan Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Hj Mohd Yusof proceeded to inform the public on the status of Bruneians living and studying abroad.

Minister of Foreign Affairs II, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd. Yusof during a press conference at the Ministry of Health. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“Based on information from the Bruneian missions, from March 19 to 22, we have seen that many local residents, especially students, have begun to return to the sultanate,” he said.

He added that about 2,892 Bruneians are still living abroad.

Out of this figure, 806 are residents that have registered with the ministry through the consulates in their respective countries while 1,534 are students. The remaining 552 are consular staff and their family members.

The minister went on to remind Bruneian nationals overseas to “e-register” through the MFA website at www.mfa.gov.bn or by registering with the consulates of their respective countries.

Flight information boards showing many cancelled flights at Brunei International Airport. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

He added that the missions abroad will assist those looking to go back to the sultanate by finding alternative travel routes to Brunei, taking into consideration the travel bans that have been imposed by other countries.

Individuals residing in countries without Brunei embassies or consulates were advised to seek assistance from the nearest missions abroad.

In case of emergencies, individuals can contact the ministry’s hotline at 8716001 or through consulate hotlines of their respective countries.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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