Roundup: Brunei celebrates national day with moderate-scaled parade, performances amid rising COVID-19 cases

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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Brunei celebrated its 38th National Day on Wednesday with a moderate-scaled parade and performances in the capital as the Southeast Asian country is experiencing a series of record-breaking days for COVID-19 infections.

Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, together with members of the royal family, attended the celebration at Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien and inspected the guard of honor.

About 3,800 participants comprising groups from national security agencies, public and private sectors, civil movements, and frontliners, took part in this year's national day assembly and parade, compared to about 30,000 attendees before the pandemic hit the country in 2020.

Facing a fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases, Brunei celebrated this year's national day following the standard operating procedures of the Ministry of Health for the pandemic, including entry only for those aged 12 and above; full vaccination required for attendees, preferably boosted; body temperature checks; Rapid Antigen Test (ART) screening; wearing face masks at all times and physical distancing.

Brunei reported 3,285 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, another record high, bringing the national tally to 44,334.

As a country of about 420,000 population, Brunei saw its daily cases exceeding the 3,000 mark for two straight days on Wednesday, after the daily number exceeded the 2,000 mark last Thursday -- also the latest in a series of record-breaking days for infection in the country.

The newly recorded cases were all local infections, the country's health ministry said.

Of the new cases, 2,343 were from Antigen Rapid Test (ART) test results uploaded to the health ministry's portal, whereas 942 were from 5,258 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratory tests performed in the past 24 hours.

The ministry said earlier that the country is going through the third wave of COVID-19 and the number of cases is expected to increase beyond the total reported during the second wave, with the Omicron variant replacing the Delta variant as the dominant variant.

As of Feb. 22, 52.9 percent of Brunei's population have received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, while more than 94 percent of Brunei's population have received one dose and two doses, respectively.

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, China's Sinopharm are administered in Brunei.

Currently, 21,504 active cases are being treated and monitored in Brunei, where 22,718 recoveries from COVID-19 have been reported. Enditem

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