By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The number of new coronavirus cases dropped for the second day yesterday, but the infection rate continued to rise, according to figures released by the health ministry. The ministry reported 4,503 new cases yesterday, down from 4,417 cases reported on Saturday and 4,881 cases, the highest ever, reported on Friday. The ministry also reported one death yesterday.

The ministry said the infection rate remains high at 14.5 percent, adding the number of patients in intensive care units rose to 26, while those receiving treatment in hospitals increased to 277. The number of active coronavirus cases surged to 41,413 cases, it said. Kuwait has imposed a series of restrictions to curb the new wave of the COVID pandemic, but has so far declined to impose total or partial closures.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah yesterday demanded clarifications of some points of the grilling submitted against him by MP Hamdan Al-Azemi. Azemi filed the grilling on Jan 4 over allegations that the minister violated the country’s traditions by allowing women to enlist in the military. He also charged the minister of ignoring recommendations made by the Audit Bureau on suspected violations in the multibillion-dollar deal to purchase Eurofighter warplanes.

The lawmaker also alleged that the minister did not protect state properties, failed to cooperate with supervision agencies, and did not apply the policy of replacing expat employees by Kuwaitis. In a letter addressed to the National Assembly, the minister said the lawmaker did not explain what constitutional clauses were violated by enlisting women in the military.

The minister also demanded to know what recommendations were made by the Audit Bureau on the Eurofighter deal and how he failed to protect state land. The grilling is expected to be debated in tomorrow’s regular session and could lead to opposition MPs filing a no-confidence motion. MP Saleh Al-Mutairi yesterday submitted a request calling for the Assembly to convene a special session on Jan 27 to discuss issues related to retired Kuwaitis.