image of Epidemiological Investigation of the First 135 COVID-19 Cases in Brunei: Implications for Surveillance, Control, and Travel Restrictions
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Studies on the early introduction of SARS-CoV-2 in a naive population have important epidemic control implications. We report findings from the epidemiological investigation of the initial 135 COVID-19 cases in Brunei and describe the impact of control measures and travel restrictions. Epidemiological and clinical information was obtained for all confirmed COVID-19 cases, whose symptom onset was from March 9 to April 5, 2020. The basic reproduction number (R0), incubation period, and serial interval (SI) were calculated. Time-varying was estimated to assess the effectiveness of control measures. Of the 135 cases detected, 53 (39.3%) were imported. The median age was 36 (range = 0.5–72) years. Forty-one (30.4%) and 13 (9.6%) were presymptomatic and asymptomatic cases, respectively. The median incubation period was 5 days (interquartile range [IQR] = 5, range = 1–11), and the mean SI was 5.4 days (SD = 4.5; 95% CI: 4.3, 6.5). The reproduction number was between 3.9 and 6.0, and the doubling time was 1.3 days. The time-varying reproduction number (Rt) was below one (Rt = 0.91; 95% credible interval: 0.62, 1.32) by the 13th day of the epidemic. Epidemic control was achieved through a combination of public health measures, with emphasis on a test–isolate–trace approach supplemented by travel restrictions and moderate physical distancing measures but no actual lockdown. Regular and ongoing testing of high-risk groups to supplement the existing surveillance program and a phased easing of physical distancing measures has helped maintain suppression of the COVID-19 outbreak in Brunei, as evidenced by the identification of only six additional cases from April 5 to August 5, 2020.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 30 Jun 2020
  • Accepted : 06 Aug 2020
  • Published online : 14 Aug 2020
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