Coronavirus Global situation: Brunei

Strict curbs after first local cases in over a year

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN • Brunei imposed strict curbs to halt the spread of Covid-19, after finding its first locally transmitted cases in the country in more than a year.

Seven community infections were found, the Health Ministry said last Saturday, leading the government to close all places of worship and postpone social events for two weeks.

Mass events will also be limited to groups of 30 people over this period, while school classes have been moved online and restaurants barred from dine-in service.

All educational institutions must return to online learning, including after-school tuition, special needs centres and music classes, news platform The Scoop reported on Sunday.

Various facilities have also been ordered to close, including gyms, fitness centres, indoor and outdoor sports facilities, leisure centres, cinemas, Internet cafes, playgrounds, driving schools, museums, libraries, galleries, beauty salons and barber shops.

During the two-week period, restaurants will not be allowed to host dine-in customers, and will be limited to takeaways and delivery services.

Other premises such as retail businesses, supermarkets, food stalls and outdoor markets are allowed to operate as long as they implement physical distancing measures.

Companies have been urged to implement a work-from-home policy, allowing only essential workers into the office.

Health Minister Isham Jaafar said the two-week period would give the health authorities time to study the cases and determine the sources of infections.

He added that the Health Ministry would "review this situation nearer to the end of two weeks to see where we are", The Scoop reported.

On Sunday, Brunei reported 17 new cases, including 15 local infections and two imported cases, bringing the total number of cases to 364. The Islamic sultanate has recorded just three deaths since the pandemic began.

More than half of its infections so far have been imported, with tight border controls and quarantine measures keeping the coronavirus' spread in check.

Brunei shares its only land border with Malaysia, which has so far recorded more than 1.26 million infections and over 10,700 deaths.

Brunei has been steadily ramping up its vaccination process, with nearly 32 per cent of its 450,000 people getting at least one jab.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2021, with the headline 'Strict curbs after first local cases in over a year'. Subscribe