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CORONAVIRUS:KUWAIT OFW QUARANTINE DAY #47- International Solidarity During the Pandemic

April 27, 2020, Monday

“The wise man does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises, to give even his life — knowing that under certain conditions it is not worthwhile to live.” 

– Aristotle

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health announced 213 new COVID-19 cases with 206 additional recoveries, and two other coronavirus deaths being recorded. This brings to a total tally of 3288 cases with 1012 recovered cases and 22 deaths.

Within the new instances, thirty-one were related to travel with 24 of them being Kuwaiti nationals who went to the United Kingdom, 4 Kuwait nationals who traveled to Germany, one Kuwaiti who traveled to Qatar, one Kuwaiti who traveled to the U.S.A. and one Kuwaiti resident who went to K.S.A. One hundred and seventy-seven of them had contact with confirmed cases with 38 being Kuwaiti nationals, 61 cases of Indian residents, 13 instances of Bangladeshi residents, 26 cases of Egyptian residents, five instances of Pakistani residents, 4 Syrian residents, 4 Filipino residents, 4 Iranian residents, 4 Sri Lankan residents, 3 Jordanian residents, 3 Lebanese residents, 2 N.K. residents, 2 Yemeni residents, 1 Sri Lankan resident, 2 Nepali residents, 1 K.S.A. resident, 1 Canadian resident, 1 Armenian resident, 1 Turkey resident, 1 Nigerian and one case of an Indonesian resident. Other cases include five instances of Kuwaiti nationals.

 Two thousand, two hundred and fifty-four patients are currently receiving medical treatment, while 64 are in the intensive care unit with 30 cases being critical; another 34 are stable in the last 24 hours and five more cases being transferred to the ICU. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased. 

“Update of COVID-19 cases in Kuwait on April 27, 2020.”

Assistance from Chinese Medical Teams

Today marks the 47th day of the quarantine, the 37th day of the curfew, and also the 5th day of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Since then, the Kuwaiti Ambassador to China, Sameeh Hayat, has released a statement to the press, which announced that the medical team from China, which specializes in the prevention and containment of emerging diseases, would arrive in Kuwait this Monday.

These bilateral efforts come as a part of China’s initiative in extending a helping hand to other countries in a bid to contain the transmission of the Novel Coronavirus. Furthermore, Ambassador Hayat announced that the aforementioned medical professionals would be discussing the latest developments regarding the virus with the Kuwaiti officials of the Ministry of Health.

The said Chinese team specializes in the fields of prevention and control of infectious diseases, epidemiology, intensive medical treatment, and DNA testing. The Kuwaiti Ambassador also expressed his heartfelt gratitude and appreciation towards China’s sincere efforts in providing unlimited support to other countries, especially to Kuwait, in helping contain and combat the pandemic at large and also contributed their experiences on how to deal with containing and preventing the transmission of infection.

A Testament to the Courage of the People of Kuwait

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt and ravage the lives of millions worldwide, the people of Kuwait have yet again proven their mettle in dealing with this crisis. In a survey done by the ARA research and Consultancy Company regarding the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 and the official governmental protocols to face the global pandemic,  it revealed that the fear of “corona” is not dominating the country and the level of confidence that the citizens of Kuwait have towards the government and the authorities remains high.

In a statement to the press, the company further explained that the research was conducted on a sample size of 507 people throughout all of Kuwait’s governorates through the use of telephone calls and also taking into account the sample distribution so as to ensure that the study represents the vast majority of Kuwaiti citizens. Even though the current pandemic preoccupies the top list of the global community’s concerns, it has not been able to sow panic among a significant segment of the public compared to other countries.

The survey also revealed that a vast majority of Kuwait’s citizens, approximately 85 percent of the sample, had great confidence with regards to the government’s measures in dealing with the pandemic as they did no fall prey to the panic from the virus. Among these individuals,, 39 percent said that they weren’t concerned at all, and 46 percent only felt a slight concern. On the other hand, it revealed that 11 percent of the responders felt anxious, and 4 percent were terrified, noting that the coronavirus has managed to extensively affect those people who lived alone or with another person compared to those who live with larger families.

In terms of the quarantine and the curfew, the conducted research revealed that the official precautionary health measures regarding self-quarantine are strictly followed by the vast majority of Kuwaitis and Arab expatriates (approximately 94%) while those not totally committed are a few young Kuwaiti employees under the age of 24.

The high level of confidence that the people and expatriates of Kuwait have towards its government and its protocols can largely be explained by the fact that the authorities have exercised their powers in a way that benefits the common good of its citizens. They have always implemented quarantine protocols and passed down legislations with the interests of the people in mind. Although the implementation of the stay at home order has been very strict, they have always tempered the rigor of the law with compassion even going as far as providing food relief packages and medical services at the very doors of its citizens who are most affected by the lockdown.

Reopening Car Businesses

This Monday, the Cabinet Ministry of Kuwait held a meeting at the Seif Palance under the supervision of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah during which the ministers approved the reopening of some car businesses. The said meeting began with the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas- Al-Saleh congratulating His Highness the Amir, His Highness the Crown Prince, and the people of Kuwait on the advent of the Holy Month of Ramadan. After that, the Minister of Health and his team who were tasked with following up on the updates regarding the spread of the virus, Sheikh Dr. Basel Humuod Al-Sabah briefed the ministers regarding the latest developments regarding the spread of the virus internationally with data from the statistics of the World Health Organization. He also informed the ministers about the number of infections and deaths in the country where it has been observed that the tracing and mingling cases have increased. After which the Minister of Health gave updates with regards to the developments regarding the methods of treatment, prevention, and logistics associated with the virus along with the examination of recommendations by the Ministerial panel tasked with keeping tabs on the contagion.

The Cabinet also decided to assign the Kuwait Municipality with the resumption of activities related to the sake and trade of cars and auto spare parts. These services, however, must be in accordance with the terms and guidelines set by the Ministries of Health, Information, Municipality, Public Authority for Industry, Public Authority for Food and Nutrition to have security personnel present round the clock at the border exits to facilitate the efficiency of the transportation regarding these imported commodities.

Furthermore, the Cabinet has also instructed the Ministry of Finance to prepare a sufficient number of facilities that can accommodate approximately 3,000 citizens for quarantine purposes. This comes in light of the repatriation program by the Kuwait government in a bid to evacuate Kuwaiti nationals stranded abroad. His Highness the Amir has also expressed his desire not to ignore the possible economic repercussions brought by the fight against the virus and also for implementing measures that seek to lift some burdens off of the citizens. The ministers also discussed a request by the Ministry of Finance to examine the delay of monthly rents and installments for the family funds’ beneficiaries. In this regard, they have decided to postpone the collection of these monthly payments for clients of the said funds for six months as of April.

I commend the Government of Kuwait’s initiative in helping the expatriates and its citizens in recovering from the financial problems that they currently experience in this crisis. I salute the authorities for their benevolence and generosity during these trying times, and as things stand, we must always put up a united front and continue to put our trust in the government, our medical frontliners and security personnel so that we can all make it through this challenge.

Updates on the Expatriation Program

As the Amnesty Program offered by the Government of Kuwait comes to an end this April, hundreds of residence violators from various countries have flocked for the second consecutive day to the processing locations designed by the Ministry of Interior.

Expatriates Flock to Amnesty Centers

The Ministry of Interior has already allocated four schools for the processing of those individuals with expired residency permits, with two of them being in the JleebAl-Shuyuokh and Al-Farwaniyah area.

I encourage our fellow OFW’s to continue availing of the amnesty program currently being offered, and I am also thankful for the efforts made by the Ministry of Interior in accommodating our fellow expatriates and leading the effort in making sure that they are safely returned home.

Due to the large number of those who wished to apply for the amnesty, there were dozens still who were unable to register and thus continue to wait in the immediate vicinity of the amnesty centers. I am deeply saddened by this because some of these individuals who are forced to sleep on the streets of Kuwait are those who have no salaries, no documents, and no places to live.

Some of the expatriates also do not meet the amnesty program’s conditions as their stay is still valid for the date after April 30 but were stranded without pay and without a place to live. There were also those who came from far-flung areas and had arrived late, and as such, they could not return as the curfew period had started leaving them with no means of transport.

Stranded Expatriates Await for Amnesty Centers to Open

Despite the fact that they have no salaries, they are still able to survive because of the iftar and sahur, which comes from the donations of the good people of Kuwait during this Ramadan. I am also thankful for the charity workers who were very eager to distribute meals to our displaced expatriates. They have indeed served as a beacon of hope for those in need. I also hope that the Philippine Embassy and other relevant authorities can find a way to provide living spaces for our displaced expatriates for the time being as these gatherings tend to be a ticking time bomb in spreading the coronavirus.

COVID-19 Situation in the Philippines

In the Philippines, the Department of Health announced 198 new COVID-19 cases with ten additional deaths and seventy recoveries. It brings to a total tally of 7,777 cases with 511 fatalities and 932 recovered cases. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased.

As of this Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte has recently signed an executive order, which reconstituted the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson to harmonize the functions of the communications office under the Office of the President. Under this instruction, the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson has the responsibility of speaking for the President on the matters pertaining to his actions, policies, and programs.

They will also be in charge of developing and implementing the necessary measures in coordinating with the various media outlets and providing information to the general public through other relevant social media platforms. As such, the only authorized personnel to speak on behalf of the President and the government are the Presidential Spokesperson and the Usec. Vergeire of the DOH for health-related manners.

I believe that this is also a necessary move for the government, and I commend them for taking the initiative in improving their mechanisms to facilitate the effective distribution of information. This holds an especially crucial role during the coronavirus pandemic because it helps affirm the transparency of information and presents a new tack in messaging while also being able to effectively lead the government’s dissemination of information regarding the pandemic.

In Kuwait, the Philippine Embassy released a statement this April 27, which announced the one-year countdown to the 500th anniversary of Lapulapu’s victory in Mactan. This victory for our ancestors in the Battle of Mactan serves as an inspiration to bot the government authorities and also the Filipino citizens to continue aspiring for freedom, sovereignty, and respect. Moreover, as the COVID-19 pandemic goes on and in the absence of a specific treatment or vaccine for the virus, I encourage everyone to take heart in the heroic actions of our forebears as they also strived and won against their enemies despite the insurmountable odds.

 Once again, I wish to thank the actions of the government authorities of Kuwait and also to the charitable institutions and volunteers who continue to provide food relief packages and meals to our brothers and sisters in need. They, along with the medical front liners and security personnel, have served a vital role in helping them return safely to their homes. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to overwhelm many healthcare facilities all over the globe, we must continue to devote ourselves to the well-being of our loved ones and family by practicing and adhering to the health measures set by the authorities.

 As we strive for the gradual reopening of our businesses and a return to our normal lives, we must never forget the sacrifices we have endured. I hope that we will all continue to strive together for the common good of our fellowmen. Together we will win this battle against this unseen enemy.

Dahil sa ang mga anak ay mga may bahagi sa laman at dugo, siya nama’y gayon ding nakabahagi sa mga ito; upang sa pamamagitan ng kamatayan ay kaniyang malipol yaong may paghahari sa kamatayan, sa makatuwid ay ang diablo:At mailigtas silang lahat na dahil sa takot sa kamatayan ay nangasailalim ng pagkaalipin sa buong buhay nila.

Mga Hebreo 2:14, 15


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