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CORONAVIRUS:KUWAIT OFW QUARANTINE DAY #24- The Country’s Concern Regarding Safety Measures

April 4, 2020, Saturday  

Crises are often resolved only through a new identity and new purpose, whether it’s that of a nation or a single human being.

– Rebecca Solnit

 As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, health and security measures are being more strictly observed and have since then become a daily norm in the daily lives of Kuwait’s citizens and expatriates alike.

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health announced 62 new COVID-19 cases with eleven additional recoveries. This brings to a total tally of 479 cases with 93 recovered cases. Within the new cases, 37 had contact with confirmed cases, and twenty-five is under investigation. Three hundred eighty-five patients are currently receiving medical treatment, while 17 are in the intensive care unit. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased. 

Safety Measures in Fighting the Virus

The Minister of Health Sheikh Dr. Bassel Al-Sabah released a statement that the government would make full use of its resources and capabilities in confronting the virus. This includes preparing the necessary equipment and health staff, isolating areas where recent coronavirus infections have surfaced, and the restriction of travel and movement in the said areas. Although the current situation appears to be under control due to the stringent health measures, the minister has since then repeated the importance of having citizens and expatriates alike to remain within their homes and to venture forth only when the need arises.

The Ministry of Health also holds daily meetings with various medical teams in order to find a treatment and vaccine for the coronavirus. These developments are then reported to the World Health Organization in collaboration with multiple groups within the international community. He insisted that no effort is being spared by the government, and the minister has since then voiced out his appreciation for His Highness the Amir’s support and confidence in the fight against the pandemic.

He also emphasized that there will be a swift and heavy retribution for those who incur violations against the Communicable Diseases Act and to anyone who would compromise the health security of the country.  There shall be a fine of KD 30,000 and an increased 1—year incarceration for those who knowingly cause the spread of the infection.

I am very grateful for the extensive effort done by the government of Kuwait, to all its lawmakers and ministers for their excellent work and sacrifice in implementing safety measures in combating the virus. There is a palpable air of solidarity and cooperation within the various agencies and ministries of Kuwait, and I cannot help but appreciate the competent and appropriate decisions that they have made in mitigating this threat.

Quarantined Building in Farwaniya

Security personnel have recently prevented the entry and exit of civilians and have imposed a quarantine on a residential building located in the Farwaniya area after a suspected case of COVID-19 infection was detected. The building is now being equipped with a medical clinic, and residential apartments and its entrances are being guarded with three patrol vehicles and security officers.

Solidarity Amidst the Pandemic

The concept of charity and generosity has always been a strong point for the people of Kuwait. So much so that they even have a term for it known as “Fazaa,” which is an old Arabic term where people scramble to help each other, especially in times of need.  As of today, the “Fazaat Al-Kuwait’ campaign, which involved 41 ministry accredited societies and charities, has garnered a total of USD 30 million contributed by almost 200,00 donors. These included the more than 150,00 meals for workers at state ministries, quarantines, and border exits. The Ministry of Social Affairs stated it had spent USD nine million within the national campaign plan to collect money for the ongoing crisis to be disbursed to the needy and personnel working in the front line of the crisis. Funds will also be distributed as financial aid for those families and individuals who have lost their jobs due to the economic disturbances brought by the pandemic.

As the saying goes, summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever. Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio expressed his heartfelt gratitude towards the Kuwaiti Government for its most needed support towards Italy in helping them combat the novel coronavirus. He also lauded Kuwait’s donation of USD 60 million to the World Health Organization as a contribution towards the collective effort in helping end the pandemic. Moreover, both ministers Maio and Dr. Nasser pondered further means of boosting cooperation between the two countries to address the pandemic’s negative effects.

Violations During Quarantine

On a Friday night, security personnel apprehended three Indian Expats for breaking the partial ban in the Farwaniya area. They were said to be found wandering around after partial ban hours, where they were then chased near a building and subsequently caught carrying alcohol. They have been referred to as the residence Investigation department to complete legal procedures.

Indian Expatriates Arrested for Breaking the Curfew

The Head of Capital Municipality’s Emergency Team Zaid Al-Enezi announced the closure of 12 out of 593 shops after they were inspected within the Capitol Governate in order to make sure they complied with the health measures issued by the government. Inspectors of the Capital Municipality’s Emergency Team carried implemented a field tour of the shops, markets, and various cooperatives in order to determine their commitment to the rules and regulations and also to make sure that they correctly implemented measures to prevent further infections. The inspectors also issued 12 citations against those constituents they deemed to be a threat to the health and safety of the general populace. He also emphasized on the point that all these commercial activities must abide by the stringent health measures put in place by the Ministry in order for them to avoid closure.

On the other hand, Director of Department of Audit and Follow-up of Municipal Sevices in Mubarak Al-Kabeer Municipality also carried out a field tour with a group of inspectors in the West Abu Futaira area in a bid to ascertain the compliance of shops concerning health and security regulations. They have already issued 19 warnings to those who have been caught violating these rules and were subsequently closed with the cooperation of their owners.

Seeing the authorities of Kuwait leading the charge in implementing the proper health and safety guidelines to be followed during the pandemic surely puts my mind at ease knowing that despite the chaos and disruption caused by the pandemic, the government of Kuwait is still able to implement the rule of law and enforce order within its streets.

Regarding the Status of Repatriation

It is the 24th day of quarantine and the 14th day of curfew and the number of Filipino expatriates benefitting from the amnesty program by the Kuwait Government continue to grow as the Directorate of Civil Aviation announced this Saturday that 303 passengers from the second flight from Kuwait International Airport arrived on Manila as a part of the plan to facilitate the departure of expatriates who have expired residency permits.

Filipino Expatriates Avail of the Amnesty Program

Later that morning, two planes from Kuwait Airways carried 650 Filipino residence violators after the Ministry of Interior completed all procedures for their return to the Philippines and while exempting them from fines plus giving them free travel to Manila. The total number of departures has now reached 1400.

Therefore I encourage those who have not yet availed of the Amnesty Program to please do so as the Philippine Embassy has already released a statement that the last day of filing applications will be tomorrow on April 5.

COVID Updates in the Philippines

In the Philippines, the Department of Health announced 76 new COVID-19 cases with eight additional deaths and five recoveries. It brings to a total tally of 3,094 with 144 fatalities and 57 recovered cases. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases decreased.

Regarding the status of mass testing in the Philippines, the Department of Health stated on a press release that by April 14, it would be capable of conducting 3,000 tests per day as a result of its recently expanded testing protocol. It also aims to further increase capacity between 8,000 to 10,000 tests by the end of April. With such measures, they will be more able to thoroughly assess the situation giving the priority of testing to the more vulnerable demographics if society such as pregnant women and front line health workers. Testing kits developed by the University of the Philippines have also been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They are now ready to be used in order to increase the country’s testing capacity.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recorded 517 COVID-19 cases of Filipinos abroad with 131 recoveries, forty-three fatalities, and 343 patients who are currently undergoing treatment. Within the death tolls, they recorded nineteen cases from Europe, one from the Asia Pacific region, three from the Middle East, and twenty from the Americas. 

COVID-19 Cases of OFW’s Abroad

Globally, there has been a rising trend of  COVID-19 infections in almost every country. These figures will only continue to rise as our governments continue to increase their testing capacity to identify and isolate these cases. I am confident with the capabilities of the Kuwait and Philippine Government in addressing this threat.  All that is left for us to do is to abide by the rules and regulations and put our trust in them as they work hard in helping our brothers and sister return home.

Huwag kang matakot, sapagka’t ako’y sumasaiyo; huwag kang manglupaypay, sapagka’t ako’y iyong Dios; aking palalakasin ka; oo, aking tutulungan ka; oo, aking aalalayan ka ng kanang kamay ng aking katuwiran.

Isaias 41:10


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