April 21, 2020, Tuesday
“Crisis is a window of opportunity that is not obvious to many people and does not last for a long time. We should learn to take advantage of it and come of out as victors rather than victims.”-Dr. Lucas D. Shallua
In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health announced 85 new COVID-19 cases with 45 additional recoveries, and two other coronavirus deaths being recorded. This brings to a total tally of 2080 cases with 412 recovered cases and 11 deaths. Within the new evidence, seven were related to travel, with 4 being Kuwaiti nationals who went to the United Arab Emirates, 2 Kuwaitis who traveled to Qatar, and one more who traveled to Bahrain.
Seventy-two of them had contact with confirmed cases with 6 being Kuwaiti nationals, 37 cases of Indian residents, eight instances of Bangladeshi residents, eight instances of Egyptian residents, 5 Syrian residents, four instances of Pakistani residents, 2 Iranian residents, 1 Palestinian, and one case of a Portuguese resident. Other cases include 4 cases Kuwaiti nationals, 1 Jordanian resident, and 1 Pakistani resident. One thousand, six hundred and fifty-seven patients are currently receiving medical treatment, while 46 are in the intensive care unit with 20 cases being critical; another 26 are stable in the last 24 hours and seven more cases being transferred to the ICU. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased
Today marks the 41st day of quarantine and the 31st day of the curfew. As the Coronavirus continues to disrupt the lives of millions worldwide, the Government of Kuwait has seen fit to adopt multi-faceted measures in containing the transmission of the virus especially in taking legal action against those who violated quarantine protocols. In a meeting chaired by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, he assigned the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and their affiliate subsidiaries to collaborate with the Ministry of health in preparing the facilities and equipment required for the curfew in the areas of North Ritqa and South KIPC. These facilities are to be used by the Ministry of Health as soon as possible.
In a statement released by the Deputy Premier Minister of Interior and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh, he announced that the government had assigned the Ministry of Health to work together with the Ministry of Interior and Finance in helping improve the strategic stocks of medicine and other medical equipment in fighting the Coronavirus. Furthermore, the holidays of both the public and private sectors are extended until April 26 until May 28. Their work will soon resume this Sunday on the 31st of Sunday. The Cabinet has also ordered the Ministry of Social Affairs to work together with the Union of Cooperative Societies to remove anything that may get in the way of procuring the strategic stock sufficient for six months.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry was also instructed to collaborate with the Foreign Ministry, Custom Directorate, Kuwait Ports Authority and Public Authority for Agriculture and Fish Resources to facilitate the procurement and facilitation of food imports in and out of border crossings and seaports. The Cabinet also approved of the Ministry of Health’s home quarantine regulations and guidelines and has since then instructed the Municipality of Kuwait to ensure that the food stores in their respective areas of jurisdiction follow the health protocols set by the government. The curfew hours now begin at 4:00 PM up until 8:00 AM; however, restaurants and food stores are allowed to operate and make food deliveries from 5:00 om to 1:00 AM.
Regarding those individuals who violated the quarantine protocols set by the Ministry, the Cabinet of Ministers has since then assigned the Ministries of Interior and Information to publicly identify and shame the said individuals. The Kuwait National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Development was also instructed by the Cabinet to take the proper and necessary measures to manufacture fabric-made masks to meet the increasing demand of the public and healthcare institutions during this pandemic.
In the meeting, the Cabinet also expressed their heartfelt thanks towards His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for the warm and welcoming speech he gave the nation during the arrival of the first wave of Kuwaiti returnees. The Cabinet has also made the decision to continue the payment of support wages for citizens working in the private sector even if they did not update their working status or were abroad.
His Highness the Amir also released a statement encouraging everyone in Kuwait, both the citizens and expatriates, to follow the quarantine protocols and preventative health measures during this period of quarantine. Along with the government and people of Kuwait, he mourned the former Minister Jassem Al-Marzouq and expressed his gratitude and paid a tribute for his service to the country of Kuwait.
During these especially trying times, I am thankful for the service of our front liners in this pandemic, the medical staff, security personnel, and those unsung essential workers who continue to provide their invaluable services to the people of Kuwait. I also praise the Government of Kuwait for having a concrete, objective, and well-laid plan of action in combating the Coronavirus. As time passes this quarantine, I have only grown more confident and well assured with the government’s capabilities in ensuring the safety of its residents and expatriates. As such, we must also offer our cooperation and solidarity in the health authorities’ efforts in combating the transmission of this virus.
Evacuation of Asian Workers
Together with the Ministry of Health and other civil defense sectors, The Ministry of Interior conducted a large-scale evacuation of about 1,200 Asian workers inside the Irqab and Sharq Regions. Through recent epidemiological investigations, the Ministry of Health found that the expatriate laborer’s living conditions within the Sharq and Mirqab areas served as ideal conditions for the further spread of the Coronavirus.
According to the Ministry of Health, they disregarded the protocols for social distancing, which led to the sudden spike in large numbers of infected individuals. Furthermore, many of these expatriate workers do not report the infections and about people who have symptoms of the disease. This may be because a lot of the said workers were in violation of the residence law.
Since then, the Ministry of Interior has formulated strategies for the evacuation of the Asian laborers from the regions mentioned above, especially in the residential areas of the expatriate workers from several buildings and homes. Before they were asked to evacuate, the workers in these areas were given enough time to pack up their belongings, after which they were transferred by civil defense buses to the quarantine facilities of Kabad and Al-Ratqa. Medical teams and professionals who examined and isolated those individuals who displayed symptoms of infection facilitated the evacuation.
Sterilization of Cooperatives with COVID-19 Cases
In a statement released by the Assistant Undersecretary of Ministry of Social Affairs for Planning and Development, Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Cooperative Sector Salem Al Rashidi, he confirmed that every cooperative society which used to harbor COVID-19 cases have already been sterilized after testing all their employees who were an initiative done with the help of the Ministry of Health. Al-Rashidi also announced that the Ministry’s inspection teams followed the health procedures in investigating these cooperative societies. They noted that some of their employees were not present at their workstations at the time when the infections were reported. These infections were reported to be among the laborers of the five cooperative societies, which were stationed in Al-Surra, Al- Ardiya, and Al-Dasma cooperative branch, as well as the Vegetables and Fruits Branch in Al-Rawda and Ishbiliya.
Violations During Quarantine
This Tuesday, the Ministry of Health released a statement to the press, which announced that it strongly condemns any attack or verbal assault on medical practitioners as a whole. This comes in light of the events, which transpired in the Mohammed Abdel Rahman Al-Bahr Eye Center wherein a visitor verbally and physically assaulted a female Kuwaiti doctor while she performed her medical duties. The Kuwaiti doctor was said to be examining one of the cases in the hospital’s emergency center when a visitor entered the clinic and asked for matters that required her clarifications regarding issues from a doctor of the same clinic. The visitor was then asked to wait until he was called for his appointment, but he repeated his inquiries, which escalated into a verbal argument and, ultimately, in a physical conflict with the man. The incident has since then been reported to the relevant authorities, and the aggressor has already been summoned by the authorities for investigation.
I would like to encourage everyone to refrain from performing any attacks on medical personnel, doctors, and other nursing staff, especially during this pandemic, which is a time when the entire population of Kuwait is dependent on their services in getting through this Crisis. They are the unsung heroes of these especially challenging times, and as they continue to treat those infected, even risking their lives as they do so, we must condemn those who would wish to harm them and protect our heroes as they continue to protect us.
Updates from the Philippine Embassy
In the Philippines, the Department of Health announced 140 new COVID-19 cases with nine additional deaths and forty-one recoveries. It brings to a total tally of 6,599 cases with 437 fatalities and 654 recovered cases. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases decreased.
The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait has recently released an advisory to the Filipino Community in Kuwait, which seeks to inform that the nationwide curfew has been further extended from 4 PM until 8 AM starting on the first day of the Holy Month of Ramadan. According to the government authorities of Kuwait, the punishment for those who violate the said curfew is a fine of KD 10,000 and imprisonment of up to three years. The Government of Kuwait also announced that its public holidays had been extended further until the end of Ramadan that means that all government agencies and offices will remain closed until May 28.
The Philippine Embassy also wishes to ask for the understanding of those OFW’s who have not yet received the food relief packages from the Philippine Labor Overseas Office. Within ten days, 11,800 packs have already been distributed by Filipino community leaders and volunteers, which has not been an easy task considering how they need to be delivered to more than 240,00 Filipinos in Kuwait. The Embassy is deeply saddened by those who have resorted to posting their resentment towards the volunteers online.
Although the Embassy recognizes the suffering and challenges that everyone is currently going through, this treatment is uncalled for since every community leader and volunteer within the Filipino community is doing their best in making sure that these packages are distributed to everyone. Although the Embassy admits that they could not possibly cater to the needs everyone due to constraints regarding their budget, they wish to offer their heartfelt gratitude towards the volunteers who gave their time and resources and even risked their lives in making sure that help is delivered to the Filipino Community in Kuwait.
As we all continue to abide by the quarantine protocols, I would like to thank our medical staff, nurses, doctors, security personnel, and essential workers in Kuwait for their continued sacrifice in helping the country of Kuwait function during these especially hard times. I also offer my appreciation to the government authorities for coming up with concrete and practical plans in dealing with the harmful effects of the pandemic and also with the strict implementation of the stringent health measures which are necessary for stemming the tide of infection in our communities.
Likewise, I would also like to offer my appreciation towards the Philippine Government and the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait for doing everything they can to help our disenfranchised Filipino brothers and sisters in Kuwait. Despite the constraints regarding the budget, they have been resourceful and fervent in their zeal in making sure that our citizens survive through this Crisis. In this regard, I would like everyone to continue in their prayers and remain steadfast in their faith that God will help us make it through this pandemic.
Sapagka’t ikaw ay naging ampunan sa dukha, ampunan sa mapagkailangan sa kaniyang kahirapan, silongan sa bagyo, lilim sa init, pagka ang hihip ng mga kakilakilabot ay parang bagyo laban sa kuta.Isaias 25:4
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