Brunei to end early endemic phase, update COVID-19 guidelines


By Xue Fei

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The Brunei government on Tuesday said its Early Endemic Phase will end on May 31, and the guidelines for COVID-19 control measures will be updated beginning in June.

As part of Brunei's National COVID-19 Recovery Framework, the country moved to the Early Endemic Phase in December last year, when local infections gradually dropped after the country imposed the strictest social distancing measures, including work from home and a curfew.

According to Brunei's COVID-19 Steering Committee, some existing COVID-19 guidelines will be updated beginning June 1, when there will be no limitation on the capacity of mass gatherings at home or in the halls.

All sporting activities including competitions or matches are allowed without limitation on the number of spectators. Food preparation for any event including buffet meals at any premises is allowed.

There will be no age restriction for all congregations at mosques to perform religious activities, and face masks should be worn in public buildings, as well as in crowded places outdoors.

These move was made considering the stable COVID-19 situation, high vaccination rates, and low bed occupancy rates at isolation centers in the country, the committee said.

"To this end, we are able to return to our daily lives by adapting to the new normal," the committee added, saying the government is monitoring and reviewing requirements for reducing other restrictions including code scans and opening of borders.

"The outcome of these evaluations, subject to the current situation, will be announced to the public at a later date," the committee said.

Brunei reported 246 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the national tally to 147,021. As of Monday, 69.7 percent of Brunei's population have received three doses of vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and China's Sinopharm are administered in Brunei. Currently, 1,633 active cases are being treated and monitored in Brunei, with 145,166 recoveries.

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