In the media conference, the Minister of Health also updated the developments of COVID-19 situation in the United Kingdom. The Ministry of Health will continue to closely monitor and review emerging information on the new variant for the virus as it emerges. So far, no infections caused by this new variant have been reported in Brunei Darussalam, and based on the scientific analysis conducted by the Ministry of Health indicates that existing PCR tests in Brunei Darussalam will detect infections resulting from this new variant.
On 19 December 2020, the United Kingdom government reported information regarding a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was found to be circulating in various areas in the UK. This variant, termed B.1.1.7 (VUI-202012/01), is caused by mutations in the virus's genetic code that first occurred sometime in September 2020.
SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus, and mutations arise naturally as the virus replicates. Many thousands of mutations or changes have already arisen on the SARS-CoV-2 virus but only a very small minority are likely to be important and to change the virus in an appreciable way. Health authorities in the United Kingdom have stated that this newly reported variant enhances the virus's ability to be more contagious or transmissible from one individual to another. Although the variant or strain has been suggested to be more transmissible, there is currently insufficient evidence to determine if this strain is associated with any change in disease severity or antibody response or vaccine efficacy to the virus. These aspects are being investigated by the authorities in the United Kingdom.
Yang Berhormat reiterated that the Ministry of Health has taken steps to increase preventive and regulatory measures to prevent the importation of the new virus variant.
Source: Radio Television Brunei