BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah has received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine injection, as the country is gearing up for the rolling-out of national vaccination program starting on Saturday.

According to Brunei's Ministry of Health, the sultan got his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine injection at the royal palace Istana Nurul Iman Thursday. After the first dose injection, the sultan has consented for the national vaccination program for COVID-19 to be given to the public in stages.

Since August 2020, Brunei has made preparations for the implementation of the vaccination program in the country. The country established a COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Committee to study, review and evaluate the COVID-19 vaccines available in the market to ensure that the vaccines used in the country are safe, effective and of quality.

Based on detailed research and evaluation, Brunei has granted special authorization for three COVID-19 vaccines to be used in the country, namely the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine.

The health ministry said that this special authorization, also known as the Emergency Use Authorization, is for the prevention of the COVID-19 infection during a public health emergency or pandemic, the purpose of which is to facilitate access and vaccination to combat pandemics taking into account the high emphasis on criteria of safety, effectiveness and quality.

According to the phases outlined in Brunei's COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy last month, COVID-19 vaccine injections will be given to frontliners for the first phase and subsequently will be extended to other groups.

"With the commencement of the COVID-19 vaccination program, we will implement post-market surveillance and will actively continue to monitor the safety profile of vaccines," the health ministry said.

Brunei reported one new confirmed case of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the national tally to 213.

According to the health ministry, this new case is being treated and monitored at the National Isolation Center with the other 14 active cases, who are all in a stable condition.

With the detection of this case, a total of 72 imported cases have been confirmed since the last local infection case on May 6, 2020. Brunei has recorded 330 days without local COVID-19 infection cases.

Brunei also reported one more recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 195.

There have been three deaths reported from COVID-19 so far in Brunei.