KUWAIT: Health Ministry Undersecretary Dr Mustafa Redha said a plan has been set in line with global recommendations and specialized bodies' guidelines to vaccinate pregnant women and children aged 12-15 against COVID-19. Speaking during a news conference on the latest developments on the health situation, Dr Redha elaborated that global studies and recommendations showed the safety of vaccines for children.

Dr Redha revealed registration for vaccinating adolescents will begin in July and the vaccination process will start in August. During the next period, vaccines will be optionally given to pregnant women, as studies have proven the safety of vaccines for this category, he added.

Dr Redha said Kuwait has launched more than 30 centers to provide coronavirus vaccines to people across the country. The ministry has made many efforts that led to a decline in the death rate to one percent of total infected cases, he said. Since announcing the first COVID-19 case, the ministry has been ready to deal with the pandemic by increasing the number of beds, intensive care units, ambulances and field hospitals, and providing medications and accredited vaccines, he affirmed.

The ministry has been keen to declare transparently the number of infections and patients in hospitals and ICUs, Dr Redha said, adding up to 43,000 vaccine doses were given to people on Monday, which reflects the rapid pace of the vaccination process.

Meanwhile, Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health Affairs Dr Buthainah Al-Mudhaf said the ministry is following up the epidemical situation in Kuwait and the world. She noted that there was an increase in cases and patients at hospitals and ICUs over the past two weeks. The stability of the epidemical situation is related to abidance by health requirements to return to normal life, she emphasized.

Asked about worries of returning to the first phase of the coronavirus plan after detecting the Delta variant of COVID-19, Dr Mudhaf pointed out that the public health sector assesses the epidemical situation based on indicators like the spread of the virus and the number of patients in hospitals and ICUs.

Health Ministry Spokesman Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad urged people to receive the vaccination, wear facemasks, use hand sanitizers and avoid gatherings to control the virus. Professor of Pediatrics Khaled Al-Said revealed that 90.5 percent of patients in hospitals, 89.4 percent in ICUs and 99.1 percent of those who died were not vaccinated.

A study on Monday showed that those who have received two shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are protected from being hospitalized by 92 percent, and those who obtained two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are immunized by 94 percent despite the presence of mutated strains, Said said. On the effects of the genetic mutation of the virus, he stressed that the epidemical situation is permanently monitored, noting that events like gatherings help spread the virus wider.

Meanwhile, the first direct commercial flights from Kuwait to the United Kingdom will begin today since they were suspended in January due to the emergence of a new COVID-19 strain. Flights between the two countries will resume after the Cabinet's decision last week instructing the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to allow direct flights to the UK.

In light of this decision, Kuwaiti airlines have begun preparing for summer flights to London, especially as it is one of the favorite destinations for many Kuwaitis. The Kuwait-London-Kuwait is one of the oldest routes operated by Kuwait Airways - since 1964. In remarks to KUNA yesterday, DGCA Director for Planning and Projects Affairs Saad Al-Otaibi said Kuwait Airways, Jazeera Airways and British Airways are the three companies licensed to operate direct flights to Heathrow Airport.

Otaibi urged all passengers to register on the Kuwait Mosafer platform, in addition to the Shlonik app, 24 hours before their departure. Otaibi said the total number of passengers at Kuwait International Airport amounted to 92,306 in May, an increase of 193 percent compared to May 2020. The number of flights reached 2,069, an increase of 96 percent compared to May of last year, he added. - KUNA