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.