KUWAIT: Minister of Health Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah said Wednesday that public health teams are making intensive pandemic investigation in the two recently identified hotspots of the novel coronavirus. "It will take weeks to stem the tide of the pandemic in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh in Farwaniyah governorate and Mahboula in Ahmadi governorate, which have been placed under total lockdown," the minister told reporters.

Sheikh Basel made the comments after touring the fairgrounds in Mishref and Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital in Jabriya in Hawally governorate. He did not rule out the possibility of detecting more hotspots in the coming weeks despite the unprecedented measures to contain cases of community transmission.

He recalled his earlier warnings that areas crowded with expatriate workers are most vulnerable to the outbreak, given the fact that their residents are less responsive to the guidelines of public health. "The living conditions and social habits of these people make them more liable for infection with the virus than others," Sheikh Basel said, affirming the ability of his ministry to conduct more COVID-19 tests and address any surges in cases.

On the evolving situation of the pandemic worldwide, he said: "Data received constantly show that this pandemic is unparalleled in terms of the scale and speed of its spread. The figures coming out so far are by no means final; they depend on the tests conducted and the persons who showed up, but there are many lone wolves everywhere. Nearly 50 percent of people who contract COVID-19 worldwide are asymptomatic; here lies the problem. They can unknowingly convey the infection to others. The only way to defeat the pandemic is to stay at home and keep social distancing."

Sheikh Basel noted that this was the main theme of the video conference he had with senior officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) last week. Sheikh Basel affirmed that the ministry of health is in an open-ended session to assess the efficacy of measures adopted and analyze their outcomes with a view to maximizing the positive aspects. He highlighted the importance of precautionary measures in addressing any eventuality, noting that the situation in Kuwait is generally better than many other countries regarding the number of cases and fatalities.

Sheikh Basel appreciated the efforts of medical cadres who are on the frontline of the battle against the pandemic to save the lives of citizens and expatriates, stressing the need of commitment by everybody to the health precautions. Citing global studies, Sheikh Dr Basel said the current crisis is expected to continue until the end of summer or the yearend. Some studies predict the number of cases worldwide to hit three million by the end of April and then double in the coming month, he said, voicing hope for finding a cure in the near future. - KUNA