Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar during a press conference at the Ministry of Health. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

For the second day in a row, Brunei reported no new confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Health announced today, leading the national tally of coronavirus infections to remain at 135.

Speaking during a press conference, Health Minister Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham also revealed that more than half of the positive cases in the country have recovered from the infection with the announcement of nine new recoveries.

This brings the total number of recovered cases in the country to 82 people which leaves 52 cases still undergoing treatment at the National Isolation Centre.

The minister also added that one of the three cases that were in critical condition has gradually recovered, no longer needing respiratory assistance, with the patient currently under close monitoring.

Meanwhile, two patients are still in critical condition where one of them still requires heart/lung machine (ECMO) assistance.

“The ministry once again want to emphasise to the public, although at this time, the spread of COVID-19 in the country is under control, we cannot be complacent and should continue to take preventative measures,” added YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham.

Source: Ministry of Health

He then called upon business and small retail outlets to implement measures such as body temperature screening, limiting the number of customers at a time and ensuring the cleanliness of trolley carts and baskets, among others.

“Business owners are also advised to provide an alternative method of sales in order to reduce contacts and overcrowding such as drive-through service, delivery service and others.

“Accordingly, the public is advised to practice social and physical distancing while going to shopping centres, the markets, small retail stores and any public places,” he said, adding that those at risk such as the elderly, should let their purchases be done by low-risk family members.

The minister then took the opportunity to advise the public to prioritise the use of online services that are offered for all governmental or banking matters.

As of today, 2,124 individuals have completed their quarantine in accordance to the Infectious Disease Act (Chapter 204) and only 237 individuals are still undergoing quarantine.

Students seen in a van after arriving at Brunei International Airport before heading over to self-isolation facilities. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

The minister also revealed that today, 305 individuals have completed their self-isolation period in the isolation facilities provided by the government, bringing the total number to 628 individuals.

Since the emergence of COVID-19 in early January, a total of 8,261 laboratory tests have been conducted, leading to a ratio of 1 in 52 individuals in the country that have been tested for COVID-19.

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

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.

A view of the Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque at the capital. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Mosque closures to extend until April 13

Sharing the session was Minister of Religious Affairs Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Othman.

During the press conference, the minister announced that mosque closures that were slated to end today will be extended for another week until April 13.

He said that following the State Mufti’s fatwa, the Islamic Religious Council asserted that it is the obligation of all parties in the country to continue the measures that have been put into place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In regards to Nisfu Sya’ban, which will fall on Wednesday, April 8, the Religious Affairs Minister said that the Mosque Affairs Department along with Radio Televisyen Brunei will be live broadcasting the recitation of Surah Yassin and supplications from the Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque.

Members of the public are encouraged to follow the event at their respective homes.

File photo of vendors during the previous Ramadhan selling thirst-quenching drinks for breaking fast. Image: The Bruneian

Cancellation of Ramadhan market

Also present was Minister of Home Affairs (MoHA), Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong who proceeded to announce the closure of all Ramadhan markets for the upcoming fasting month.

He explained that this includes all Ramadhan stalls under the Municipal Department, District Offices, and the Youth and Sports Department, adding that the move is part of the government’s ongoing efforts in curbing the COVID-19 outbreak.

To ensure that the affected vendors are able to continue doing business during the holy month, MoHA along with the Youth and Sports Department, will be coordinating an online business initiative to help the affected individuals through www.ekadaibrunei.bn.

The website is an online directory that connects users and vendors to other local e-commerce platforms as well as delivery and logistics services.

“MoHA is hoping that the public, especially the Ramadhan market vendors, to support this e-commerce initiative to ensure the business continuity of our local MSMEs, as well as to ensure that consumer demand are met during the fasting month,” he added.

For more information, vendors can contact the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI) at 2323232 or eKadaiBrunei@aiti.gov.bn and the Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) help desk at 8363442/2384830 or info@dare.gov.bn.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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