By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday decided to resume direct commercial flights with Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, whose nationals make up some 70 percent of residents in Kuwait, after months of suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic. Government spokesman Tareq Al-Mazrem said the decision is conditional to complying with regulations to be decided by the ministerial coronavirus emergency committee.

Barring Nepal, the other five nations have the biggest communities in Kuwait among residents. Together, the six nations have around 2.3 million people in Kuwait, out of a total expat population of 3.3 million. Flights with many countries had been suspended several months ago as part of Kuwait's measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The Cabinet also allowed residents who have received unapproved vaccinations outside the country - namely Sinopharm, Sinovac and Sputnik V - to enter Kuwait, provided they take one more dose of one of the four approved vaccinations in Kuwait - Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The health ministry has reported a steady decline in the number of new cases and patients in hospitals and intensive care units. The number of new cases reported by the health ministry has been below 400 for the past five days, a sharp decline from the past weeks. There are only 398 patients in hospitals and 182 patients in intensive care units, way down from numbers in the past weeks.

Just 14 deaths have been reported in the past five days, also a sharp decline from the past. Local media said the resumption of flights will start from Sunday. Al-Jarida Arabic daily also reported that the Cabinet has agreed to increase Kuwait airport's capacity from 10,000 passengers to 15,000 passengers daily.