BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Nov 28 (Borneo Bulletin/ANN): Brunei's Covid-19 Steering Committee has informed that entry and exit permissions for eight African countries have been temporarily suspended immediately, following reports of a new coronavirus variant, Omicron, first detected in the region.
The affected countries are South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, said Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Abu Bakar Apong at the daily press conference in the capital.
The suspension also applies to foreign nationals who have been given prior permission to enter the Sultanate from the affected countries through flights that have been given approval.
The suspension is an additional step to provide space for the government to monitor and assess the risk of the new variant.
The emergence of new variants is common in the evolution of most viruses, including Covid-19.
Dr Awang Abu Bakar added that the country’s effort to increase the coverage of vaccination, including booster shots, can help protect the people towards reaching the Endemic Phase safely.
“Let’s support the government’s effort for us to jointly uphold public well-being by complying to the set guidelines and protocols. Cooperation from all parties is needed and we pray and strive for the nation to be safe from Covid-19,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Mohd Isham Jaafar said a number of factors must be taken into account in assessing a new variant, including whether the virus can be detected within the country’s current capabilities, its incubation period, whether it can cause more severe symptoms, and its effect on vaccination.
“It doesn’t necessarily has to have all elements present. One aspect is all that it takes to affect our Transition Phase or our plans to move from Transition to Endemic Phase,” he said. - Borneo Bulletin/ANN