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COVID-19 Brunei: Stranded Malaysians grateful for Brunei’s help (2020)


The chartered Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) flight carrying the second batch of Bruneian students from Cairo safely landed in the country on Sunday. Also on board were some family members and 84 Malaysian tourists who were stranded in Egypt. Charge d’Affaires at the Malaysian High Commission in Brunei Darussalam Nadia Azura binti Mohd Nudri said the arrangements in Cairo were made by the Malaysian and Brunei embassies there.


BY Lyna Mohamad

The Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) flight carrying the second batch of Bruneian students from Cairo safely landed in the country on Sunday. Also on board were some family members and 84 Malaysian tourists who were stranded in Egypt.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam had earlier consented for the stranded Malaysians to board the same chartered flight.

Charge d’Affaires at the Malaysian High Commission in Brunei Darussalam Nadia Azura binti Mohd Nudri, in a phone interview with the Bulletin, disclosed that the 84 Malaysians who had arrived with the Bruneian students were then flown to Kuala Lumpur, along with the 25 Malaysians stranded here.

“The Malaysia Airlines flight, which flew in 139 Bruneians stranded in Kuala Lumpur, also brought the stranded Malaysians back,” said Nadia Azura, adding that the arrangements in Cairo were made by the Malaysian and Brunei embassies there.

The talks regarding their evacuation and conveyance were carried out between Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof and Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

“On behalf of the Malaysian Government, I thank the Government of Brunei and His Majesty for consenting to fly in our stranded Malaysians from Cairo to Brunei, before they were transferred on the returning flight to Kuala Lumpur,” said Nadia Azura.



The Malaysian tourists who were stranded in Egypt on their arrival at the Brunei International Airport. PHOTOS: MALAYSIAN HIGH COMMISSION IN BRUNEI DARUSSALAM & MUHAMMAD ‘AZIM



Students at the Brunei International Airport

“This is evidence of the strong ties and cooperation between these two countries. The relentless support help us stand strong together in a very difficult situation. We will look into other opportunities to work together for the benefit of everyone.”

Meanwhile, President of the Brunei Students’ Welfare Association in Egypt Muhammad ‘Azim bin Abdul Hadi, who is in the fourth year of his Arabic Language studies, thanked His Majesty and the Brunei Government for their solicitousness towards the welfare of the 367 Brunei students in Egypt.

Sharing his experiences, Muhammad ‘Azim said the students did not panic on receiving news of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Instead, we took early precautions such as the frequent use of hand sanitisers and the wearing of face masks when necessary,” he recalled.

“We appreciate the effort and work put into our evacuation, through the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Brunei Darussalam Embassy in Cairo and RB. Although boarding the flight was voluntary, all students decided to return to Brunei, since education centres such as universities were suspended and our examinations postponed to early June,” he said.

He said that during the early stages of the outbreak, when Egypt was still COVID-19 free, the Brunei Students’ Welfare Association in Egypt took early precautions by educating Bruneian students on what they needed to know about the virus.

“This included the symptoms and ways to prevent infection, as handled by their Sports and Health Unit. Some students also wore face masks when they were sick and abstained from going to crowded places such as malls and cinemas,” said Muhammad ‘Azim.

Egypt confirmed its first COVID-19 case on February 14, and then its second and third case early March. With the number of cases increasing rapidly, the Brunei Darussalam Embassy in Cairo advised the students to take extra precautions.

The Brunei Students’ Welfare Association in Egypt started to work closely with the Brunei Embassy, by sorting all the students into emergency groups (GK1 – GK22) and appointed leaders for each group to advice or alert the students in case of emergencies.

All events and activities held in large groups or gatherings, as well as tutorial classes and weekly group studies were cancelled, while the students were told to take online classes or study through recordings.

Siti Nurul Aqilah binti Haji Zaidin, currently in her fourth year of studying dentistry at Egypt’s Alexandria University, expressed her appreciation to RB for making its first direct flight from Brunei to Cairo, while describing it as “an unforgettable experience”.

“Everything was held systematically ensuring everyone was fit to travel and feel safe. The cabin crew was very friendly and helpful, despite the long flight from Brunei. Needless to say, it was my most memorable flight back home,” she said.

-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin


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