Coping with the “new norm”

Written by Rano Iskandar on . Posted in Social News

His Majesty the Sultan delivering a titah earlier this week

His Majesty the Sultan’s titah. His Majesty shared that for over a year, Brunei Darussalam was safe and free of infections. We have no neglected to be grateful to Allah the Almighty for this blessings as we are aware that nothing will take place without His consent and will. However, on August 2021, we were caught off guard by local transmissions involving seven individuals and the following days, the numbers came rising. 

His Majesty said that no misfortune will occur unless through committing sins, and it will not subside unless we seek forgiveness from Allah the Almighty and repent for their sins. 

“If we wash our hands with water or sanitiser, we should wash our sins by seeking forgiveness and repentance.” 

“We, as a people of faith, still hope that Allah the Almighty will grant our prayers and good deeds to cleanse Brunei from the coronavirus pandemic.”


 

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr. Hj Md Isham Jaafar, Minister of Health receiving 100,000 doses of Moderna vaccine, from the government of Republic of Singapore, represented by His Excellency Heng Aik Yeow, High Commissioner of Republic of Singapore to Brunei Darussalam two nights ago
A new vaccination center at Institute of Health Science at Universiti Brunei Darussalam
The frontliners at the UBD vaccination center



Vaccination centers. Alhamdullilah, more centers are opening up, the latest being at Institute of Health Sciences at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam. This was publicly announced yesterday at the press conference. This is welcoming news as the demand for vaccines have surged after the second wave hit Brunei hard. It was also made public that Brunei received 100,000 doses of Moderna vaccine which was donated by the government of the Republic of Singapore. The contribution by Singapore reflects the special relations with Brunei Darussalam and their continued support in fight against the virus. 

Almost 70% of the population in Singapore are vaccinated and this is what Brunei wants to achieve before year end. So far almost 40% of Brunei has at least 1 dose of the vaccination while only less than 15% are fully vaccinated. So insyaAllah by year end, we can reach 70% and that’s also waiting for the arrival of the few hundred thousand doses of Pfizer to Brunei Darussalam which could be the by final quarter of 2021. 



Cases still on the rise. There’s no determining on where the peak will be. It has been 10 days and the cases have subsided. Instead we have at least 20 clusters related to the positive cases with Chung Hua KB cluster being the highest followed by Champion 7 cluster.

Yang Berhormat Dato Dr. Isham Jaafar, Minister of Health, shared that they will need at least one week of data from the BruHealth to study the pattern and see how they can better prepare to handle the current situation. I do hope the investment of the BruHealth app pays off in learning such trends. It is still a great app, nonetheless, especially with the implementation of the your BruHIMS record and also the effectiveness of the BruHealth if you keep your bluetooth activated at all times. 



Digital Quarantine Order. Now this is a very new thing for all those residing in Brunei Darussalam and quite a few will still be clueless or unsure (I can’t blame them). The first day of the launch of the Digital Quarantine Order was a few glitches where some users where given the QO on their BruHealth without any context since he or she wasn’t even a primary or secondary contact with a +ve patient. It seemed to be resolved and stable as we speak but there are still a handful of people unsure the mechanism or instructions required once they received an QO on his or her app. 

Basically once you receive the QO, you are required to undergo self-isolation at your said address. The app also features a tracking of your whereabouts (bluetooth must be activated) and you can also request for food deliveries. Because of the tracing feature, should the person with an QO violate by straying more than 100 metres from their home, the tracker will notify the relevant authorities. Such offenders can be fined BND 5,000 or even be prosecuted in Court and fine up to BND 10,000. So yea, this is considered a serious matter indeed should one breach the Quarantine Order. Now I wonder if anyone has breached the QO. 

So peeps, it’s important to get keep using your BruHealth app now with the second wave kicking us even harder. We have been slacking indeed when using the BruHealth app and taking for granted of our situation. I am also guilty of it sometimes for not scanning the QR Code when entering a premise. I believe that if the majority had been very discipline in using the QR code for the past few months, it would have help the contact tracing even easier when the second wave hit. We are just one or two steps behind and I do hope we are able to contain the spread. If we could just turn back time…. 

Endemic stage. This was a question I raised during the Press Conference (15/8/2021). When replied, Yang Berhormat Dato said, “We have to live with. It’s in the population just like H1N1.” So it’s important for the country to be fully immunized or the aim is for Brunei Darussalam to reach 70% for vaccination. He aims to reach a pace of 10,000 vaccination per day once the new stock of vaccines arrive within this week. 

It will be good news for Brunei if we treat the situation as endemic rather than pandemic so we can get on with our “new normal” life. I assume there will still be mandatory to wear mask but it will be less worrying once we reached herd immunity and protecting the community. Business will hopefully run as normal and it will help to kick start the economy back into first gear. 



Lacking manpower. This is the true test of time for Brunei Darussalam. The thought of the existing National Isolation Centre was already considered a privileged and always on standby should any cases sprout out. Little did we know the community spread has exhausted the capacity at the National Isolation Centre, the logistics at the vaccination centers and even the hotline at 148. There’s also shortage of resources for transportation of the positive cases who were supposedly to be transported to the National Isolation Centre. Even the Ministry of Health needs more manpower in the “red zone” area which majority of the volunteer isn’t taking any risk which is understandable. 

I’m sure by the second or hopefully by the third week, everything will be in order and the cases will just keep appearing every now and then until we can contain the spread. The related government agencies are on top of things to strategize on how to run the operations at a smooth manner. The 2nd wave have really caught us off guard and no one could have predicted the high number of infection that has taken Brunei by storm. Other countries are already experience 3rd or 4th wave of infection. We have enjoyed far too long (15-month) and it was a matter of time before the bubble burst. 

Currently, according to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, we have quite a number of volunteers who signed up to help as Ministry of Health needed all the help they can. Already around 4,000 registered under the Youth Volunteer Group as of August 20 and since the second wave, a total of 400 youth has signed up. Though 400 are active and on duty at designated locations, they still need more volunteers. 

The volunteers also have transported food ration to the 840 homes that are under Quarantine Order to accommodate more than 5,000 individuals. Volunteers can sign up through www.sukarelawanbelia.com or through the Mengalinga App or their hotline 891 3762. 


Behind the scenes at 148. Image by The Scoop



Contacting 148. It’s good to know that the hotline number 148 has increased in manpower, from 7 people to 20 people, but the number of call-ins is still considered very high (in the region of 600 calls or more daily). Even their whatsapp/telegram line 730095 is too overwhelming with thousands of messages to go through.  Hence Ministry of Health are still looking for volunteers to help with the hotline segment.

It’s also known that the Brunei Red Crescent is also assisting the 148 hotline and you can contact the following numbers – 826 0420, 826 0320, 826 0360, 826 0370 and 826 0390 from 8am to 8pm. 

Or you can also contact Talian Darussalam 123 or whatsapp them at 833 3123 or you can email them at info@123.com.bn 

Come to think of it, I feel that I am also playing a role of “148” as I do share information to those who are seeking for answers and I will answer accordingly with the knowledge being shared by the Ministry of Health. So can you imagine those behind the line, constantly dedicating their time to answer any queries. This takes a lot of mental strength as they will have to deal with different types of personalities. So please, do have compassion for them and they are just humans and doing to the best of their capabilities with the resources given. Just have to be patient. Even a friend of mine made 192 calls to 148 before she successfully got hold of a person for her vaccination slot. So keep trying and don’t give up 😀 

A tip: Try to call before midnight or after midnight. Chances getting through is higher indeed. Good luck and thank you for your understanding. 

Contact RA

ranoadidas (a) gmail.com
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Contact: +6738677773

About RA

A blogger since 2002, using platforms from blogspot, joomla and now currently wordpress. A readership that stands on average of 20,000 visits per month. Also on active on social media platform on IG, Facebook and Snapchat (@ranoadidas)

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