It feels surreal. That’s the only word to describe. I have always remained optimistic on the situation in Brunei Darussalam. So many praises (and some envies) from my neighbouring friends on how we are living our lives on a normal basis – no masks, little attention to social distancing, mass gatherings, crowded malls etc. Basically we are enjoying in our own majestic bubble. It came to a point that I sometimes feel that we are invincible to the pandemic.
After more than 15 months of being free from local transmission, 7 new local cases were reported yesterday. The first five, Case 340 to Case 344, were linked to a hotel used for quarantine purposes. It was known that the 5 cases had no travel history in recent months and there is a likelihood this particular cluster has been exposed to one of the imported case recently.
Now here is where it got me curious. The other cases (case 345 & case 346) are isolated local cases and the source of the infection has yet to be identified and still under investigation. One is believed to be from a school and the other one from a district. Once the Ministry of Health have the correct information, they will definitely share accordingly.
According to Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dj Hj Mohd Isham bin Hj Jaafar, there is a possibility that there was a breach of standard operating procedures (SOPs) which led to the new local transmissions.
With the new local transmissions and 3 new clusters, with the consent of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, there will be control measures for the next two weeks to combat the local transmissions. These measures are something we were already accustomed to back in 2020.
Here are the following control measures :
- Mass gatherings are capped at 30 pax.
- Mosques, suraus, and places of worship to be closed.
- Online learning will commenced for schools, other educational institutions, tuition classes, music classes and special needs classes
- Restaurants will be limited to takeaway and delivery, with no dine-in allowed.
- Recreational centres including gyms, cinemas, internet cafés, playgrounds, leisure centres, museums and galleries to be closed.
- Beauty salons and barber shops to be closed.
- Businesses have been urged to implement a work-from-home policy (business continuity plan), allowing only essential workers on physical premises.
- Masks are now mandatory and to be worn indoor at public places and also outdoor
Attending the press conference yesterday was already surreal. It was like waiting to sit for my final exams and not knowing which questions will popped up. I was running numbers in my head. Will it be 2 new cases, 5 new cases? I was just feeling anxious as everyone else. Even the false information of the poster was circulated around to stir more unnecessary drama.
All I can say is I just felt overwhelmed with the unverified and verified information yesterday. Last time, it took a toll on me and I wasn’t in a good shape, mentally, emotionally and physically. The new wave have taught me something and this time, I feel that I am able to handle the pressure once again as a source of information to the public.
It’s beyond our control that the re-instated control measures have already disrupted wedding functions, running/sporting events, expos and many more. Even my upcoming B3 Doubles Tennis Invitational Charity Cup 2021 is put on hold until further notice. With all these setbacks, the highest priority is the safety and health of our nation and nothing is bigger than this. I do hope those affected can understand the latest development and we should be very blessed and appreciative on how the Brunei Government especially the Ministry of Health have been championing this cause to combat the spread since Day 1.
I have been getting reports from witnesses that the people are still visible at crowded places and some are not even wearing masks or adhering to the SOPs. Then again, this latest development was just less than a day old so let’s hope the business retailers step up their game and enforce the SOPs accordingly for the safety of the public. I believe the Ministry of Health will carry out “Operasi Merati” on business premises and take stern actions to those who don’t comply to the SOPs set by the Ministry of Health. It’s also being shared that the Royal Brunei Police Force are also monitoring in public places and setting up road blocks to remind people to wear masks.
I urged all my friends and families to stay home for now or if you do go out to adhere to the SOPs from the Ministry of Health. I alone cannot fight this but with all of us, with the same vision, we can fight the spread and save the nation.