On Sunday, March 15, Brunei's Ministry of Health announced that all citizens and foreign residents will be prohibited from leaving the country from Monday, March 16, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Exemptions will only be made for individuals with special circumstances, such as those who need to receive urgent medical care, attend court hearings, or resume their studies abroad, and will be subject to the approval of the Prime Minister's office.
Entry restrictions remain in place for individuals arriving from Iran, Italy, as well as China's Hubei, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu provinces. Foreign travelers who have visited or transited through these countries within 14 days of arrival will be denied entry to Brunei. Brunei citizens are exempted from these restrictions but must self-quarantine at home for 14 days as a precaution.
Meanwhile, authorities have advised anyone who attended any religious events with participants from the religious congregation (tabligh) COVID-19 cluster at Masjid Jamek Seri Petaling in Kuala Lumpur from Thursday, March 5, through Sunday, March 8, to come forward for testing.
As of March 15, the Ministry of Health has confirmed 50 cases of the virus nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.