NEW DELHI: 141 cases, of which 136 have recovered, and one death. That sums up the Covid-19 situation in the tiny nation of Brunei. Ajaneesh Kumar, India’s High Commissioner, explains to StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi the reasons for the low numbers and outlines the process of repatriation in the Vande Bharat mission. Of the 11,000-strong Indian population there, only 102 have registered with the mission to return to India (there are no direct flights between India and Brunei). The phased reopening of facilities including mosques is currently taking place in the country that never really saw a strict lockdown. The BruHealth App with QR codes keeps a real-time tab on people, says Kumar, for each event or facility they can enter. Kumar highlights the crucial role Brunei plays in tracking satellites launched from India, adding that a larger area is being negotiated for the station. The High Commissioner also highlights the fact that oil accounts for 90 per cent of trade between the two countries, at one point reaching $1 billion. With Brunei assuming the presidency of ASEAN later this year, the Indian envoy hopes Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit there for the summit scheduled to be hosted by Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah in 2021.
Brunei is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo; the remainder of the island’s territory is divided between Malaysia and Indonesia. Apart from its coastline with the South China Sea, the country is completely surrounded by the Malaysian state of Sarawak.