The battle continues since the second wave and now we are in the mid of the third wave while other countries are already in their fifth. Despite averaging at 2,000 cases per day (in the past few days), Brunei won’t be reverting back to restrictions.
There are mixed feelings from the public with the current situation. Many are anxious with the increasing number. Some are optimistic as long as we adhere to the Standard of Procedures (SOPs) from the Ministry of Health. Some are even questioning the fact that the National Day celebration/parade is still proceeding though the numbers of participants have decreased from last year’s. I believe as long as strict measures are in place, the upcoming event won’t be a spreader, InsyaAllah.
For me, personally, I am on the fence on attending crowded events. Perhaps, this is a true test for Brunei if we are able to cope with the high numbers. Even the reporting of the Press Conferences have been delivered in a different manner, acknowledging first the number of patients in Category 4 (those requiring oxygen assistance) and Category 5 (those requiring artificial ventilation & treated in ICU) only then announcing the daily number of cases in Brunei Darussalam. I believe that the number of Cat 4 & 5 are better indicators and more important than the number of daily cases.
I am still impressed with some of the actions from the public though. The fact that we are in the “Early Endemic Phase” (with less restrictions), people are quite vigilant and not taking unnecessary risk to head out in public places such as malls and cafes. Dine-ins have recently taken a nose dive ever since the number of cases rose to record numbers. Food delivery apps (GoMamam, TaPow) are back in demand as many opted for take aways. It’s good to see that many are able to make a conscious decision.
It will be interesting how this strategy will panned out in the coming weeks. With a number reaching almost 18,000 active cases, MOH have allowed those in Category 1 and 2 to undergo self-isolation at their own homes so it will help to lessen the strain at the National Isolation Centre.
It’s yet to be known if Brunei numbers have peaked and it’s pretty tricky to predict as well, knowing how unpredictable the latest variant, Omicron, can be. It’s just unfortunate that the number of deaths have steadily increased in the past week.
Honestly speaking, despite the assurance that Omicron is less severe than Delta variant, I am still quite fearful of being infected and furthermore, I have been boosted since January. Just recently I am in a close contact with a friend whom I met at an opened space and I had to do a responsible thing by self-isolating myself for a few days. I know it’s a matter of time that one will either be infected or at least a “close contact” and with lesser restrictive movements and closures, the number of close contacts/QOs will be on a high.
I believe the relevant agencies have done their due diligence, in tackling the virus. We will hit the two year mark since the outbreak in March 2020 and the way forward is to accept that we will have to live with the virus (whether we like it or not).
For now, our greatest weapon to tackle (the virus) is by being accountable and responsible for our actions and adhere to the SOPs that have been provided by the Brunei Government.
This is Rano, signing off. Stay safe and take care.
Jati Transport Sdn Bhd has launched the New generation of the world’s bestselling luxury sedan: The new S-Class at Mercedes-Benz Autohaus yesterday. Invited guests were given an exclusive private tour to the new S-Class.
The S-Class stands for the fascination of Mercedes-Benz: legendary and traditional engineering expertise defines the luxury segment in the automobile industry. The new S-Class can be experienced with almost all senses — vision, touch, hearing, and smell — and also offers numerous innovations that provide driver support, protection and interaction, for example. The Driving Assistance Package and the MBUX infotainment system with the “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant come with many new functions, and both are integrated as standard. The large central display in portrait orientation is the visual highlight in the interior.
The most important features at a glance:
- At the touch of a button, the new 3D driver display provides real depth perception of the surroundings for the first time, thanks to eye-tracking.
- Active ambient lighting with around 250 LEDs is integrated into the driver assistance systems and can visually reinforce their warnings. Furthermore, the lighting can provide feedback acknowledging control inputs or “Hey Mercedes” commands
- The adaptive MULTIBEAM LED headlamps illuminate the road for you according to the situation, providing excellent visibility. This is because the headlamps react to the current traffic situation with the aid of individually controllable LEDs.
- Flush-fitting, illuminated door handles in conjunction with KEYLESS GO blend in perfectly with the silhouette and reduce wind resistance.
Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad (“BIBD”) announced the appointment of Hajah Noraini binti Haji Sulaiman as the Acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of BIBD, effective 1 December 2021. Hajah Noraini, currently the Deputy Managing Director I, has been in the financial industry since 1997, holding various posts and directorships within the BIBD Group and its affiliate company. She is also a board member of various organisations.
Mr. Mubashar Khokhar who is on secondment term from Fajr Capital Limited (“Fajr”), Dubai since 2015 will continue as Managing Director and CEO until 30 November 2021. His stewardship and Fajr’s contribution as BIBD’s transformation partner, had facilitated the BIBD’s strategic transformation into the largest and strongest bank in Brunei, producing stellar performance, year on year, with strong profitable growth.
BIBD is now Brunei’s largest Islamic financial institution, ranked the Safest Bank and the Strongest Bank by reputable publishers such as the Global Finance and The Asian Banker respectively. BIBD’s selection as the Bank of the Year by the gold standard of accolades, The Banker magazine, truly epitomises BIBD’s transformational journey into becoming a world-class Islamic financial institution.
YM Hajah Noraini was previously the Acting Managing Director of Syarikat Takaful Brunei Darussalam, on secondment from BIBD. She was also the Chief Financial Officer for Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam, and has held other accounting and financial roles in various Bruneian companies such as Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd. Currently, she is the director for BIBD At- Tamwil Berhad, BIBD Securities, BIBD Management Services, Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre and Jerudong Park Medical Centre. She was also a director in Tabung Amanah Pekerja (TAP) and the Chairman for the TAP Audit Committee. She is a member of the Brunei Darussalam Accounting Standards Council.
Hajah Noraini binti Haji Sulaiman is the first local female lead role in BIBD which also holds the biggest share mark in the banking sector. She has been holding her Deputy Managing Director role for more than 7 years and she has been very active ever since the incorporation of BIBD back in 2005.
One of her earlier posts in BIBD was Corporate Secretary of BIBD. Later on, she held post as the Chief Financial Officer of BIBD before being promoted as Deputy Managing Director I and CEO of BIBD.
I wish Hajah Noraini all the best in her role as the Acting Managing Director and CEO of BIBD. She is definitely a Bruneian at heart. Congratulations.
On 20 October 2021, Brunei LNG Sendirian Berhad (Brunei LNG) took delivery of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Ambulance at the Mercedes-Benz Autohaus. Present at the event to officiate the delivery was YM Hj Amir Hamzah Pehin Dato Hj Abd Rahman, HSE Manager of Brunei LNG and YM Hjh Khartini Hj Ibrahim, Head of Governance & Performance of Brunei LNG along with Mr Alfred So, General Manager of Jati Transport and Mr Jackson Kimbing, Service Manager of Jati Transport.
The ceremony began with the recitation of Doa Selamat by YM Hassanal Junaidi, Head of Emergency Response & Security of Brunei LNG followed by a group photo session and ribbon cutting ceremony.
After the ceremony, the ambulance features were demonstrated by Mr Onn Chee Wee, Service Advisor of Jati Transport to the senior management and staff of Brunei LNG.
Brunei LNG’s trained and qualified medical team is poised to respond to an emergency as every second counts and the addition of this new ambulance will further elevate the safety performance of the people in Brunei LNG.
It will also improve the overall effectiveness of Brunei LNG’s emergency response and allowing Brunei LNG to support the surrounding community in the event of an emergency, especially with the second outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
The ambulance is equipped with the latest Mercedes-Benz diesel engine and 7G-TRONIC transmission. This automatic transmission ensures the smooth transfer of power, while at the same time reducing fuel consumption and keeping emissions low. On top of the latest Mercedes Benz automobile technology, the new ambulance is equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment such as Zoll Auto CPR – which is an automated, portable, battery-powered CPR device, which increases the efficiency of the medical team when tending to an injured personnel that requires CPR.
The vehicle is also equipped with the latest safety features from Mercedes-Benz – Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist.
Third week coming. Cases are still quite high considering our population. Even though in a 100 region cases, it’s considered high because of the high infection rate and it also has been confirmed that we already have the Delta variant which is a very infectious virus than the original variant.
The control measures are to continue up until early October. There are still people who have no regards for the control measures as we speak. Some would appear in public places when they should have been isolated at their own homes. I just hope that one day Ministry of Health will share information on those who has been compound or prosecuted for breaking the Quarantine Act. So it will be a great example so they can take such law seriously. I am even shocked when James Kon of Borneo Bulletin shared how he came across a +ve person, trying to enter the fish market recently because he had a purple code on his BruHealth app.
Yang Berhormat Dato Minister of Health also shared that if any government officer who broke the Quarantine Act Order will also be terminated from his or her employment. Hence this is regarded as a serious offence. So let’s play our part to fight and flatten the curve.
The virus is definitely here to stay and will be part of our daily lives. Only once we manage to get pass the mitigation stage and contain the virus, then only we can loosen up the restrictions and help restart the slow activity especially in Brunei economy’s status.
Vaccination program update. A huge blow to those who are supposedly booked for the 1st dose starting September due to the shortage of the Moderna vaccines. This was publicly announced yesterday by the Minster of Health during the press conference. Yang Berhormat reassures the public that the other supply of vaccines will be coming to Brunei soon and Brunei will reach 70% by the end of 2021. Yang Berhormat also apologizes to the disruption in the vaccination program
However, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will still and only be provided to the elderly, differently-abled, and pregnant women where they can get the first dose injections from any vaccination centres on a walk-in basis. However, it should be noted that the supply of vaccines for this group is limited. This doesn’t apply to breastfeeding mothers for now.
Those who already had their first doses, your bookings remain as scheduled and there will be adequate supply for those receiving the second dose.
As I have shared before on my IG live recap, we are supposed to receive 300,000 doses of Pfizer in the final quarter. It’s still not known what is the situation with the order. Yang Berhormat did highlight that it’s the accessibility to these vaccines that are delaying the vaccination program. With Brunei’s good relations with other countries, let’s hope we can expedite the process of receiving these vaccines. I like the idea how the Australia government have a swap initiative where they secured 500,000 doses of Pfizer from Singapore and they will send back to Singapore the same amount once they have the orders later in December. Who knows the Brunei government can work a similar deal. Then again, every country has their priorities to protect their citizens.
As of now, we are only at 22% for those who are fully immunised (with two doses). The rate percentage per day is averaging at 0.6 and if you do that Maths, it will be less than 90 days to hit the 70% mark. That, of course, if we have access to the Pfizer vaccine as well. So let’s hope for the best and once we reach herd immunity, we shall see what plans the Brunei Government has in store for us.
Extension of vaccination centers. Some suggested to have more vaccination centres within the district but Yang Berhormat said it will be near impossible should the government were to execute this. There are many things to consider – the paramedics, the specialized cold storage for Moderna, the man power, space and a few more. These are not easily accessible with our current resources. Hence having it at dedicated vaccination centre, it will be a better in the economy scale of things for Brunei.
The 2nd wave impact. Definitely a much more devastating impact that the first one. To date, we have recorded an additional 8 deaths in a span of 3 weeks as compared to the 3 deaths in the 15-month period. Furthermore, it was confirmed that the variant is Delta which is much more infectious than the original variant. In just a span of three weeks, cases have broke the 2,000 mark which is considered high for our population.
The good news is that the majority of the cases are in Category 1 and Category 2 where they are mostly asymptomatic or having just mild symptoms. More than half in Category 1 have been isolating themselves at the confinement of their own rooms due to logistics and centers being overwhelmed. As we speak, newer isolation centers have been identified with the latest being at Mahad, Tutong which can accommodate up to 338 patients.
As for the number cases where it’s on a downward trend, it is still early to say as the results of the swab tests are still not a true reflection as 94 positive cases from the 146 cases reported recently was based on the second swab during their 12th day of isolation whereas the 50+ cases are results from 24 hours ago. Let’s we come to a stage where numbers won’t be multiplying and Yang Berhormat Dato keeps emphasizing those on Quarantine Order to stay put at home “Teranah di Rumah” because there are those who still snuck out of their homes and this will simply disrupt the plans for us to move forward by reducing control measures phase by phase.
Insurance. Speaking of vaccines, I want tot share the Great Eastern Brunei has an insurance product that covers that vaccination. Basically once you are vaccinated, you can get special coverage. I did ask about insurance during the press conference where should one who are vaccinated get better and reasonable premium fees for their insurance since they are considered low risk to those who are unvaccinated. It’s a pretty new ball game and I know Delta Airlines will charge their unvaccinated employees an extra $200 per month. So this could be a game changer but it’s still early days to know how the insurance company in Brunei sees about this or even business entities.
Singapore will be introducing the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) and guess what… Brunei is part of Singapore’s VTL which means we can fly to Singapore with certain conditions and criteria. Travel insurance is one of their criteria and should cover a minimum of BND 30,000 for Covid-19 related medical treatment and hospitalization cost before they travel to Singapore. Speaking of travel, yea, the first country for me to visit, once everything has settle down, is definitely Singapore.
Oyen the celebrity. Despite the second wave, there’s always a silver lining and that is Oyen. The orange adorable cat made its debut on social media on August 10 and the responses have been overwhelming and welcoming. It has taken Brunei by storm and kudos to the Ministry of Health for creating such an iconic mascot.
However, there have been a public backlash for those who have been in a way, profiting from selling merchandise with Oyen’s image without the consent of the Ministry. When being confronted, some of the vendors would go to an extent to redesign Oyen which again can be considered plagiarism as the redesign is still an inspiration from the original artist.
It then came to the attention of the Ministry and they were kind enough for those who are interested to use Oyen in their merchandise, they can simply contact through email firstname.lastname@example.org
On that note, Ministry of Health, Brunei is collaborating with Ophthalmology Society and Edy Aswandi (the original creator of Oyen) in selling the official Oyen face masks at 7pm on the 3 September. Just visit https://bruneieyesociety.com/ to pre-order your Oyen mask. The proceeds will go to the Covid-19 relief funds.
Less support the students. Another device donation campaign is being carried out by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) and the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI). The campaign aims to support online learning and to help students in need as an effort in addressing the impact of the second wave in Brunei Darussalam.
The Device Donation Campaign will take place until 30 September 2021 from 8:30am to 11:30am except for Friday, Sunday and public holiday. Check out the posters for more details on how to donate. Their target is to reach 5,000 devices to the students and last year they managed to raise almost 1,700 devices. Your contribution is much appreciated.
Mental health. Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) is collaborating with Health Promotion Centre (HPC) to promote and raise awareness about mental health among the people of Brunei amidst the local Covid-19 situation and as a long-term plan as part of its partnership to promote health and well-being. T
he collaboration will help promote awareness and education on mental health issues which will be uploaded on BIBD’s and HPC’s Mind Your Mind social media channels. “The re-emergence of the Covid-19 situation in Brunei has caused a huge impact on all of us, in which a number of changes had to be made in order to curb the spread of Covid-19,” said Nor Syahmun binti Hj Matassan, Clinical Psychologist and Mental Health Strategy Lead at the Health Promotion Centre.
“These changes and uncertainty unfortunately can lead to stress, anxiety, fear, and lack of motivation for many of us. Although this is a common and normal reaction during a pandemic situation, it must be addressed. It is more important now than ever, for us and the whole Bruneian community, to mind our mind and maintain good mental health and well-being,” she added.
“We, the Ministry of Health through the Mind your Mind Brunei Team at Health Promotion Centre is grateful to have this opportunity to work and collaborate together with BIBD and Community for Brunei to share series of tips and strategies that can hopefully help everyone maintain good mental health and well-being especially during these challenging times.”
The Ministry of Health would like to highlight and remind the public to not hesitate to ask for professional help if anyone is feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the current situation. They may contact the mental health professionals at Talian Harapan 145 for support, every day from 8.00am to 11.00pm
My view: This is a great outlet especially for those who are experiencing this. During the first wave, it hit me really hard – mentally, emotionally and physically because the fear and anxiety of the virus. I was worried about my well-being and also my family members. I can relate also to a few of my friends who under went quarantine at the National Isolation Centre and they probably had it worst due to the restrictions in place and also being confined to a smaller area than usual for a minimum of two weeks.
So, do reach out the number 145 and hopefully they can assist you. Let’s not take mental health for granted.