By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The health ministry yesterday announced 109 new coronavirus cases, the largest number of cases in a single day, raising the total to 665. The new cases include 79 Indians, six Egyptians, six Iranians and six Bangladeshis. They also include eight Kuwaitis, three Pakistanis and one Filipino. No new deaths were reported. Four cases recovered yesterday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 103.

There are 561 cases receiving treatment, of whom 20 are in the intensive care unit, seven in critical condition. Ministry spokesman Abdullah Al-Sanad said the number of cases resulting from contact with infected cases has grown rapidly in the past few days, and that many of them contracted the disease from unknown sources.

National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem yesterday blasted visa traders who exploit expat workers, describing them as "traffickers in human beings" and called on the government to severely punish them. The speaker's call comes amid a steep rise in the number of coronavirus cases among expat workers and calls by lawmakers on the government to impose lockdowns on certain residential areas.

"The crisis has unveiled how ugly and brutal visa traders are," Ghanem said in a statement. "This is an opportunity for amending the demographic structure and there will be no other chances in the future," he said. "But, we in Kuwait fear God and we do not want to be unfair to the people," said the speaker, adding that crowding of workers in certain areas and leaving them wandering on the streets is the outcome of visa trading in the country.

"The government should hold these traffickers in humans responsible for the unfair treatment of expat workers. The government should make them pay for setting up camps or any other alternatives and later should send them to court," Ghanem stressed. The speaker said the demographic structure must be rectified and that names of visa traders should be made public.

With the announcement of 77 cases on Sunday, a majority of them expats, they surpassed the number of Kuwaiti cases, and the problem is that the source of infection remains unidentified for many. MP Adel Al-Damkhi called for imposing lockdowns on certain densely populated expat areas to prevent the spread of the disease, saying that health authorities have not disclosed where the infection curve is heading. He also called for seeking the help of highly-qualified medical consultants to prepare a long-term plan based on the worst-case scenario.

Minister of Social Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel said yesterday that a string of economic decisions will be issued soon over workers in the private sector and their salaries, rents and prices of food items and others. The minister called for continued efforts against the disease, expecting that the crisis could continue for months and maybe until the end of the year.

Around 2,000 Filipinos have benefited from the interior ministry amnesty offer for expats illegally residing in the country. Several hundreds of them have already departed as the ministry started processing the applications of another nationality - Egyptians - yesterday.

In another development, the assembly speaker yesterday said he was opposed to the government-sponsored bill that seeks to allow the government to borrow KD 20 billion. He said the draft law includes flaws and it was sent to the Assembly at an inappropriate time, and called for the government to withdraw it and allow a special economic team to study it. MP Riyadh Al-Adasani said he plans to file to grill the finance minister if the government insists on submitting the debt draft law.

The interior ministry has launched new online services for citizens and residents amid the exceptional circumstances the country is experiencing. The new services, which are now available on the ministry's website (, include transfer of residency from one passport to another for residents, Latin name modification, family residency renewal (article 22) and sponsors' residence (article 24), the ministry said in a statement late Sunday.

However, the residency renewal service will be available on the ministry's website only for those whose residency expired as of early March. The move came following necessary coordination between the ministry's general department of residency, information technology and communication sector, Pubic Authority for Civil Information and the health ministry, according to the statement.

Municipality Director General Ahmad Al-Manfouhi decided Sunday to shut the fish, livestock and sheep markets to the public as part of efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. "Sales at fish wholesale markets will be confined to cooperative societies, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and retailers," he told KUNA.

"The livestock markets are allowed to sell only to slaughterhouses, which will, in turn, be closed to the public," he said, noting that slaughterhouses will sell meat to cooperative societies, supermarkets, butcher shops, restaurants and hotels. The public authority for food and nutrition and competent authorities have been notified of the decision to execute it immediately, Manfouhi added.