His Majesty the Sultan consented to the construction of a new virology laboratory in Jalan Sumbiling at the capital in an effort to meet the rising demand of COVID-19 tests in the sultanate.
This was revealed by the Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dri Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar during a joint press conference yesterday.
Addressing questions from the media, the health minister said that the new virology laboratory is slated to be completed within two weeks and is expected to increase the ministry’s capacity in testing for new COVID-19 cases.
Since the arrival COVID-19 in the sultanate, YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham said that the ministry has conducted about an average of 50 to 60 laboratory tests a day, however, “we have doubled that number already”.
“With the new laboratory, we hope to increase our capacity and conduct more tests soon,” he added.
Five new cases, one case recovered
The health minister also announced the confirmation of five new cases of the COVID-19 virus in the sultanate, making the nation’s current tally stand at 78.
It was also revealed that one case has been cured of the disease and was allowed to return home from the National Isolation Centre, however, the individual has been advised to remain in self-isolation for the next seven days.
“This means that there are 77 cases that are still undergoing treatment at the centre,” he said.
Case 74, 75, 76 and 77 were fillial contacts of case 69. All four had no history of travelling abroad and have shown no symptoms of the virus.
Case 78, aged 56 is a British national working in the sultanate, who arrived in the country on March 16 via Royal Brunei Airlines flight B1004 (seat 5G).
Case 78 took a test for COVID-19 after finding out a passenger who sat nearby in the plane tested positive for the virus.
“The confirmed case was travelling to Hong Kong. Epidemiological investigations did not associate this case with case 73 who boarded the same aircraft (seat 9A),” added the minister.
All confirmed cases are currently undergoing treatment at the National Isolation Centre.
Two cases are in critical condition requiring the aid of ventilators however the minister added that they show signs of recovering.
Meanwhile, five cases require careful monitoring.
YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham then proceeded to give out updates regarding the Bruneians who had to remain in Kuala Lumpur after attending a tabligh gathering at the Malaysian city last month.
Six have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 and are undergoing treatment while the remaining three tested negative.
As of today, 1,664 individuals are undergoing quarantine in accordance with the Infectious Diseases Act (Chapter 204) and 101 individuals have completed their quarantine and all are well.
Since the emergence of COVID-19 in early January, a total of 2,468 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.
Self-isolation arrivals to be placed in hostels, apartments and hotels
With the mandatory isolation for all arrivals via the Brunei International Airport put in place commencing yesterday, YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham clarified that the directive will also include visitors as well as foreign workers.
Any visitor arriving into the country by land or sea will also have to go through mandatory self-isolation for 14 days upon their arrival into the country.
Individuals undergoing the mandatory self-isolation will be placed in designated locations identified by the ministry, this includes hotels, apartments and hostels, explained the minister.
“Due to this, the arrival of visitors and foreign workers are discouraged at the moment,” he said, adding that any non-locals currently arriving into the country will have to bear the cost of their self-isolation including accommodations and meals.
Members of the public were urged to not sensationalise the situation, as the accommodations are only used to monitor the health of those who have travelled abroad.
“They are not the contacts of the confirmed cases or those suspected to be infected by COVID-19,” the health minister said.
He added that the government appreciates the cooperation, commitment and sacrifice of businesses, hotels, apartments and hostel owners to ensure the success of the government’s efforts to control the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN