By B Izzak
KUWAIT: The Council of Ministers yesterday called on the public to take the third booster dose to boost immunity against the deadly COVID-19 virus and its latest Omicron variant. The Cabinet, holding an extraordinary meeting, was briefed on the latest developments by Health Minister Sheikh Basel Al-Sabah who assured the government that the health situation in the country was very assuring and that there are no COVID-19 patients in the intensive care units. The minister stressed the need to get the third booster dose to strengthen protection against the COVID-19 variants.
A new COVID-19 variant named Omicron has caused worldwide concern with a large number of countries suspending commercial flights with South Africa, where the variant was detected, and several other African nations. At an extraordinary meeting late on Saturday, the Cabinet imposed a ban on commercial flights from nine African nations over Omicron but allowed cargo. The indefinite ban became effective yesterday.
The countries are South Africa, where the new variant originated, in addition to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zambia and Malawi.
The Cabinet also decided to ban entry of foreigners from those African countries unless they have spent at least 14 days in a third country. Kuwaiti citizens arriving from those nations must undergo institutional quarantine for seven days with a PCR test done on the day of arrival and a second on the sixth day.
The Council of Ministers also called on citizens to avoid travel out of Kuwait now unless it is extremely necessary, especially to countries that have reported cases of Omicron. The Cabinet expressed satisfaction over the stability of the health situation in the country but urged citizens and residents to continue to implement health conditions especially wearing face masks.
Meanwhile, the court of cassation yesterday upheld jail sentences and hefty fines imposed on a Bangladeshi MP, a number of former senior officials and a former lawmaker after convicting them of money-laundering, bribery, and trafficking in persons. The Bangladeshi MP was sentenced to seven years in jail and fined KD 2.7 million while former Kuwaiti MP Salah Khorshed was sentenced to seven years in jail and fined KD 740,000.
Former interior ministry assistant undersecretary Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah, a member of the ruling family, was sentenced to seven years in jail and fined KD 2 million. Nawaf Al-Shallahi, a former official of the Public Manpower Authority, was sentenced to four years in jail and fined KD 2 million while Hussein Al-Khader, another former official, was sentenced to seven years in jail and fined KD 180,000. The rulings are final. The court however upheld the acquittal of MP Saadoun Hammad of all charges. Hammad thanked the Kuwaiti judiciary for clearing his name of charges that had been illegally accused of. He added that he was acquitted by all courts.