Brunei immediately placed travel restrictions on eight countries; South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, following a report on Omicron variant detected.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong announced the suspension of entry-and-exit permission applies to individuals who have received prior permission to enter the Sultanate until further notice.
The Omicron variant or B.1.1.529 was first reported to WHO on November 24 and classified as the ‘Variant of Concern’ (VOC) – and has been detected to spread faster than previous surges in infection.
Considering VOC as ‘quite serious’, the Minister of Health, Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Md Isham bin Hj Jaafar said the country continues to monitor several factors that can impact the process of the national recovery plan.
As the variant stokes concern among countries, several aspects were pointed out by the Health Minister on our capability to detect the variant, uncertain incubation period, the severity of the symptoms, and the impact on our vaccination.
“With the presence of these factors or even one, can affect our plan to enter the Endemic Phase,” he said.
Following the WHO announcement, countries including the United States and Singapore have enforced travel bans on affected countries.
Two-week extension of restriction movement directive
Brunei Darussalam continues to observe another two-week restriction movement directive from 10 PM to 4 AM starting on December 1 to 14.
A statement made by the Minister of Home Affairs at a press conference yesterday underlined the extension of the ‘Operasi Peralihan’ aims to ensure the well-being of all parties.
The public is advised to comply with all instructions or regulations set by the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in working together to curb the risk of Covid-19 infection in the country.
Unvaccinated individuals returning to the workplace
Unvaccinated individuals in government and private sectors will be allowed to work from the office and undergo ART testing every two days starting December 1 as a preparatory step for the country to enter the Endemic Phase.
For individuals waiting for their second dose or exempt from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine due to health problems, their ART testing will be borne by their respective employers. Meanwhile, those not vaccinated at their discretion or for personal reasons will bear their own cost of the ART tests.