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CORONAVIRUS:KUWAIT OFW QUARANTINE DAY #50- A Beacon of Hope During the Crisis

April 30, 2020, Saturday

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – And sings the tunes without the words – And never stops at all.”

-Emily Dickinson

During the air raids that the Luftwaffe conducted on British soil during the Second World War, the British Government issued and displayed posters with a message that helped boost the morale of its citizens. One of them, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” has grown extremely popular over these years, and during the COVID-19 crisis, it is as relevant in the present as it was in the past.

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health announced 284 new COVID-19 cases with 150 additional recoveries, and two additional coronavirus deaths being recorded. This brings to a total tally of 4,024 cases, with 1539 recovered cases and 26 deaths. Within the new cases, four were related to travel, three of them being Kuwaiti nationals who traveled to the United Kingdom, and one Kuwaiti resident who traveled to Egypt.

Two hundred and seventy-six of them had contact with confirmed cases with 24 of them being Kuwaiti nationals, 125 cases of Indian residents, 20 cases of Bangladeshi residents, 3 cases of Nepali residents, 13 cases of Filipino residents, 18 Pakistani residents, 11 Syrian residents, 8 Lebanese residents, 5 N.K. residents, 5 Iranian residents, 4 K.S.A. residents, 3 Sri Lankan residents, 2 Jordanian residents, 1 Indonesian resident, 1 Malaysian, 1 South African, 1, Sudanese resident and 1 Uzbek resident. Other cases under investigation include 4 Kuwaiti nationals.

 Two thousand, four hundred and fifty-nine patients are currently receiving medical treatment, while 66 are in the intensive care unit with 30 cases being critical; another 36 are stable in the last 24 hours, and five more cases being transferred to the I.C.U. With another three being transferred to the ward. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases decreased. 

Food Donations from the Kuwait Red Crescent

Today marks the 50th day of the quarantine, 40th day of the curfew, and the 7th day of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Yet again, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society has opened its doors towards the most needy of Kuwait by distributing approximately 1,000 food baskets and 250 frozen chicken boxes to the citizens and laborers in the locked-down areas of the Jleeb-Al-Shuyuokh in the Farwaniya Governorate.

Food Relief Packages from the Kuwait Red Crescent Society

Inside the food, packages are a wide variety of food and consumer goods enough to feed a family of five members for a month.  In a statement to the press, the Kuwait Red Crescent Director-General Abdulrahman Al-Oun expressed the organization’s eagerness to support the government authorities with helping contain the spread of the virus by giving the residents of these locked-down areas with the resources they need to survive.

Distribution of Food Parcels in Coordination with the Ministry of Interior

With the help of the Ministry of Interior the Kuwait Red Crescent also facilitated the distribution of ready-made meals and food parcels to tradesmen and itinerant workers in the fully isolated districts of Jleeb Al-Shuyuokh and Al-Mahboula. I am thankful for the Kuwait Red Crescent Societ, the Ministry of Interior, and all the generous individuals and volunteers who contributed towards the distribution of these food parcels towards those affected by the lockdown. Their assistance plays a pivotal role in the survival of the residents and expatriates currently residing in these areas.

Ensuring the Implementation of Quarantine Measures

This Thursday, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, along with members of his security detail, inspected the field hospitals and quarantine facilities installed by the health authorities in helping mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19 disease in Kuwait.

His Highness first visited the quarantine facility in Al-Ardhiya, which was constructed with the combined efforts between the Ministries of Health and Public works. He then went on to examine the facilities in the Mishrif Area, which was constructed with the combined efforts of the Kuwait Oil Company and the Kuwait Integrated Petroleum Industries Company. His Highness the Prime has expressed his gratitude towards all the authorities and personnel who pooled their efforts and resources in making these quarantine facilities which were in line with the orders from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

In light of these recent efforts, the Kuwait Fire Safety Directorate has also taken the initiative in examining the safety and security measures of 40 quarantines. In a statement released by the Deputy Director for Prevention Sector at Kuwait Fire Service Directorate Major General Khaled Al-Fad, the Prevention Sector has facilitated in the inspection of the quarantines in hotels, resorts and camps, examined all the field hospitals and preliminary examination centers, strategic stores, cooperative societies and also in checking the examination centers for returnees from the Kuwait International Airport. With assistance from the Ministry of Health, they delivered about 17,000 prescriptions to the houses of patients in the last three weeks by providing 250 automobiles and 40 officers and noncommissioned personnel who facilitated in its distribution. They have also taken steps in sterilizing the vehicles and trucks that entered the proximity of Kuwait via land ports and airports, field hospitals, and primary health centers that were installed by the Health Ministry during the pandemic.

In this regard, Major General Khaled Al-Fad explained that the Kuwait Fire Service Directorate did not suspend its role in the projects of strategic and continuous importance and its work in the Maternity Hospital building and the new Kuwait International Airport. He praised the commitment of the factories and stores in adhering to the preventative and safety health measures set by the Ministry and also for their cooperation. He also declared that the KFSD receives those who wish to renew their expired firefighting license at the Citizen Service Center in the Mishref Area and further stressed that failure to renew does not issue them a citation for violations except for the stores operating during the crisis.

I am thankful to the Kuwaiti Government, especially its top officials, for not only implementing measures that would help contain the virus but also making sure that they are adhered to by their constituents. They have displayed an admirable form of leadership, the kind that takes part in a hands-on approach towards the crisis, not only leading their men but also taking part in their hardships and struggles.

Status of the Cooperatives in Kuwait

As of this Thursday, there have been calls by the major cooperative societies to develop more stringent health measures and warnings and concerns regarding how the central markets could become potential hotspots of the coronavirus due to these institutions providing the ideal environment for its spread and transmission. Since then, these societies have called upon the Ministries of Health, Commerce, Industry, Social Affairs, and Interior so in order to avoid a catastrophe that may overwhelm these outlets. They demanded the need to protect citizens and expatriates among consumers, employers, volunteers from contracting the disease with it spreading to the communities of Kuwait should they continue to open these services.

Head of Mishref Cooperative Society Abdul Rahman Al-Qadiri was one of the first officials to heed these concerned and has then contacted the relevant authorities regarding the complete closure of these markets. In order to provide for the shopping needs of the residents, he has called for the implementation of online and electronic shopping and delivery to the houses of the residents so that it removes the need to enter the central markets.

Status of the Expatriates in Kuwait

In a statement to the press, the National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim quoted the Minister of Social Affairs and State Minister for Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel. Al-Ghanim, who announced that as of today, around 18,000 expatriates who violated the Residency Law are currently staying in shelters and are ready to leave Kuwait, while the total number of violators ranges from 158,000 to 433,000. This was said after a meeting in his office with Al- Aqeel, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al-Muhammad, and 18 M.P.s in attendance.

In light of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, in the Jleeb Al-Shuyuokh and Mahboula areas, the government authorities have recently put forth strategies regarding its gradual reopening, which would help relieve the significant burdens of the expatriates currently residing in these areas. Security sources stated that some of the expatriates in Jleeb, especially those with medical complications or emergency cases, were given exit permits with the condition that they would return after completing their medical appointments. The relevant authorities are also providing the residents with food and gas; however, the main problem for the expatriates is that they are mostly concerned with the state of their finances because of the non-payment of their salaries, especially those with “No Work No Pay” contracts. This means that they do not have the means with which to purchase food and basic commodities, and they mostly rely on the food relief packages by the government.

Regarding the proposed strategies, plans are currently underway to install field hospitals and quarantine facilities within the immediate vicinity of these two areas. The relief program will begin with an epidemiological investigation to be conducted by the Health Ministry’s medical teams, followed by the transport of those suspected of infection by the Ministry of Defense and the National Guard. However, these steps are still under the proposal and still await the approval and implementation of the relevant authorities.

Updates from the Philippine Embassy

In the Philippines, the Department of Health announced 276 new COVID-19 cases with ten additional deaths and twenty recoveries. It brings to a total tally of 8,488 cases with 568 fatalities and 1,043 recovered cases. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased.

Update of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines on April 30, 2020

The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait has recently appealed to the Filipino community in Kuwait in asking for assistance in search of the following individuals:

Whereabouts in Kuwait of OFWs Mary Rose Tipo Palapal, Marlyn Leyno Bernardo, Maira Saidona Balad, and Emetilyn Nervar Ferrer.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to isolate and restrict travel to the many areas of Kuwait that are locked down due to the pandemic,  I would like everyone to exercise compassion and understanding towards the volunteers and the Filipino community area coordinators for the perceived lack of response by the Embassy. It is because thousands of requests and messages are being received by our volunteers, with at least 10,000 of them currently being processed.  In a statement by Oliver Diong of the Coalition of Filipino Organizations of Kuwait, he wishes to reassure everyone who gave calls, messages, and texts to the Embassy that their please have already been carried to the database and the organization is doing everything in its power to accommodate everyone.

For many of us, the coronavirus pandemic has halted normal life. As we continue to remain in our homes, our medical professionals, doctor, nurses, and other frontline personnel are doing their best to treat the infected and keep us safe. In these times of crisis, I am thankful to the government authorities of Kuwait, to the Philippine Embassy, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society, and all the generous individuals who found it in their hearts to help our needy brothers and sisters in Kuwait. I am also thankful to the Philippine Government and our President Rodrigo Duterte for always looking after our expatriates’ welfare in the Filipino Community.

Decades before the coronavirus pandemic, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” This is especially relevant during this crisis, as many of our fellowmen continue to lose their jobs and are left to fend for themselves during this time of great uncertainty.

Regardless, we must always see hope as this constantly renewable option. Should you run out of it at the end of the day, we still get to start over in the morning. Although this crisis has indeed pushed most of us to our breaking points, we must always shift our perspective and see this crisis as an opportunity for growth. Because often when we think we’re at the end of something, it’s always going to be the beginning of something else.

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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Peace and love to you.

Gracia Amor
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