KUWAIT: Kuwait has so far recorded 69 cases infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), most of which are for Kuwaiti patients who returned to the country from Iran, in addition to two Kuwaitis who returned from Egypt, an Egyptian national who returned to Kuwait from a visit to Azerbaijan and another Egyptian resident who came in contact with him.
With the exception of four cases in critical condition, all cases are in stable condition and are recovering in quarantined locations designated by the government for this purpose, while dozens have been discharged after exhibiting no symptoms during their 14-day quarantine period, the Ministry of Health confirmed.
Meanwhile, two people have recovered completely after previously been infected with the virus, the ministry said. Kuwait is taking measures to test Kuwaitis coming from infected areas for potential infection, as it has already tested thousands of people, the overwhelming majority of them have returned from Iran.
Countries’ ban list
As a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus, Kuwait has suspended flights from and to the following countries:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
In the meantime, Kuwait sent charter flights to bring back Kuwaitis from infected areas, mainly Iran, Italy and Thailand, and test them before entering the country.
Kuwait suspended issuing entry permits and visas unless those issued through diplomatic missions. Previously, authorities have stopped issuing all kinds of visas (visit, work, etc) for Egyptian nationals, while allowing those who already have a visa to enter only after they take tests in Cairo before coming to Kuwait.
In the meantime, Iraq has suspended flights from Kuwait, whereas Saudi Arabia stopped issuing umrah visas for all nationalities as a precautionary measures. Furthermore, Kuwait suspended all flights for a week starting March 7 to and from the following countries:
- Sri Lanka
This came two days after Kuwait suspended a decision which required travelers to conduct Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at certified clinics before coming to Kuwait from the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Syria, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Georgia, and Lebanon.
Meanwhile, the health ministry announced that all persons who have arrived in Kuwait from Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Lebanon, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Syria must follow preventive health procedures and guidelines, and are obliged to implement compulsory home quarantine for a period of two weeks from the date of departure.
The suspension will end at midnight on March 13, 2020. Only Kuwaiti citizens and their first-degree relatives (parents, husbands, wives and children regardless of nationality) will be exempted from the entry ban provided they prove their relationship and undergo the standard medical procedures to be followed.
Domestic helpers will be allowed in only if they arrive with their sponsors on the same flights. Citizens of the abovementioned countries will only be allowed into Kuwait if they spend 14 days in a non-infected third country. It added that passengers wishing to travel to any of the seven countries can do so via third country airports.
The Civil Service Commission directed all government agencies to bar employees placed under any form of quarantine from resuming work. The ban is applicable on Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti employees. Salary payments will continue as usual to all Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti employees under all kinds of compulsory quarantine.
Types of quarantine
Kuwait has set three quarantine categories for people returning from countries with confirmed novel coronavirus cases. The first category stipulates compulsory quarantine at government quarantine centers for 14 days for people returning from:
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
The second category stipulates compulsory home quarantine for 14 days and following up with health authorities in case symptoms develop for people returning from:
- Sri Lanka
The third category stipulates noncompulsory yet preferred home quarantine for 14 days, avoiding gatherings and following up with health authorities in case symptoms develop for people returning from:
- United States of America
- The Netherlands
- The United Kingdom
State departments have been on high alert to take precautions against the potential spread of the virus. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has taken measures to make sure that facial masks, hand sanitizers and other goods remain accessible to the public.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has suspended classes for March at all public and private schools (for both students and teaching staffs); first from March 1 to March 12, and later extended it until March 29. In the meantime, the Civil Service Commission suspended the biometric fingerprint system for staff attendance until further notice. Furthermore, Kuwait banned
- The Ministry of Health has set the following hotlines to receive inquiries about the coronavirus 24/7: 24970967 – 96049698 – 99048619.
- The Education Ministry set the following hotlines to receive inquiries on school closures related to the anti-coronavirus measures:
o 24970967 (24/7 hotline)
o 51575591 (Capital Educational Zone)
o 51576117 (Hawally Educational Zone)
o 51576576 (Farwaniya Educational Zone)
o 51577055 (Jahra Educational Zone)
o 51577655 (Ahmadi Educational Zone)
o 51577951 (Mubarak Al-Kabeer Educational Zone)
o 51578171 (Religious Studies Department)
o 51588599 (Private Education Department)
o 51592515 (Services Department)
o 51594544 (Public Relations Department)