Updated: May 28, 2021 05:00 AM GMT
Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral in Brunei's capital of Bandar Seri Begawan. (Photo: YouTube)
Brunei has extended an international travel ban as the Muslim state attempts to protect its enviable record in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The sultanate has gone 382 days without local transmissions, while the number of imported cases stands at 95. It has just six active cases and a national tally of just 236 confirmed cases after testing 124,787 people since January 2020.
However, the major fear is the Indian variant which has ravaged the subcontinent while other variants have also contributed to a sharp spike in the disease across Southeast Asia.
The Prime Minister's Office said a temporary suspension of traveling to and from India, imposed on April 27, will be extended until June 13 and expanded to cover Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
It said the suspension would apply to entry travel by all foreign nationals departing from or through any airport in the region except for diplomatic passport holders and members of the armed forces.
The suspension also applies to passengers transiting through Brunei and for all foreign nationals departing from the region.
Brunei Darussalam’s pandemic control has achieved remarkable results
Brunei has been praised for its response to the pandemic.
“Some Asian countries have encountered new surges, while some have been keeping high number of cases for a fairly long period of time,” said Yu Hong, ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei.
“Brunei Darussalam’s pandemic control has achieved remarkable results,” she said.
The tiny and isolated state on the island of Borneo launched its vaccination rollout in April after receiving its first doses through the COVAX facility while 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 200,000 doses of the Moderna jab were expected to be delivered in the coming months.
That will enable the health ministry to vaccinate about 70 percent of Brunei’s population, which is slightly more than 433,000 people, almost enough to create herd immunity.
Brunei’s health ministry has said India’s Covid crisis would not directly affect the country’s vaccine supply because India mainly produces vaccines for developing countries.
“Our vaccines are manufactured elsewhere — AstraZeneca in South Korea, and Europe for the rest, so it doesn’t affect our supply,” health minister Isham Jaafar said.
“What’s happening in India is very sad. Hopefully, the Indian government can make things better with the help of the international community.”
The ministry has divided its vaccination rollout into three phases. Phase one includes frontliners, senior citizens aged 60 and above, students or individuals who will be studying abroad. Phase two includes staff working at daycare centers, teachers and adults with high risks, while phase three involves all other individuals aged 18 and above.