Waiting for vaccine rollout


BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro

Four OFWs are among Brunei’s 202 COVID19 cases, including 58 imported cases since the last local transmission on May 6, 2020.

Brunei’s inoculation program in three phases for 20 percent of population will begin once Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines arrive this March, health authorities say.

Hosting over 20,000 overseas Filipino workers, Sultanate will give free COVID19 vaccinations to citizens and foreign nationals with valid Identity Card.

Children under 12 are now welcome to hear mass at Brunei’s three churches where 70 percent are Filipino parishioners.

A year into the world’s longest quarantine, up to 11,000 new coronavirus disease cases daily are projected by the end of March following an upward trend in infections in Philippines.

Reproduction number has increased to 2.03, meaning every COVID19 case can infect two people, OCTA Research says.

Philippine government harps on 2020’s reversal trend as doctors give a “failing mark” on government’s year-long pandemic response.

“Government failed to flatten the curve and reduce to less than a thousand the number of new cases per two weeks since the public health emergency a year ago,” medical groups say.

The surge is attributed to increased mobility, less compliance with health protocols – face mask and face shield wearing, frequent hand washing, social distancing and three new coronavirus variants recently detected in the Philippines.

Except for returning overseas Filipino workers, the Philippines temporarily banned entry of travelers, whether foreigners or Filipinos from overseas, starting March 20 until April 20, 2021.

Amid rising COVID cases, Hong Kong health authorities imposed a two-week ban on landing of Cathay Pacific’s Manila flights from March 15 to 28, 2021.
Brunei still maintains travel restrictions to prevent a second infection wave after relaxing more COVID control measures on its fifth or “new normal” deescalation plan.

Sultanate has been brought the outbreak under control with no community transmission for over 300 days.

Phase 5 allows 1,000 people to gather at a time from the previous 350 people social gathering limit set August last year.

Using its contract tracing app BruHealth, Brunei conducted in January a WHO-patterned national survey.

Among 50,068 respondents, 59 percent would “definitely or likely take” COVID vaccine once available.

84 percent of respondents would trust health ministry recommendation to get COVID19 vaccine.

Brunei’s vaccine candidates are: Pfizer BioNTech, two doses required at 21-day intervals; Moderna, two doses at 28 days interval; AstraZeneca, two doses at 12 weeks interval; Sinopharm, two doses at 21 to 28 days in-terval; and Johnson and Johnson, which requires only one dose.

China- donated Sinopharm vaccines are still undergoing evaluation before their authorized use, authorities say.

Front liners, elderly (over 60), and students bound for overseas study will get the first jabs. Teachers, childcare workers and adults at high risk of contracting the virus are in phase two. All adults aged 18 and above, phase three.

Brunei public are required to scan BruHealth QR codes, practice good hy-giene, observe social distancing and wear face masks in crowded areas.
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