Move to second phase delayed over rise in virus cases
By B Izzak
KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday decided against moving into the second phase of easing coronavirus restrictions due to a steep rise in the number of cases, mainly amongst Kuwaiti citizens, saying the situation will be reviewed next week.
During its extraordinary meeting held yesterday, the Cabinet also lifted the total lockdown on Hawally, Nugra and Khaitan and eased curfew hours throughout the country – from 7 pm to 5 am – starting Sunday. The lockdown on Farwaniya, Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh and Mahboula will continue, government spokesman Tareq Al-Mezrem told a virtual press conference.
As a result, government offices will not reopen on Sunday as was scheduled and will remain shut for at least another week, but the Cabinet asked service ministries to provide some services to the public. The Cabinet also eased restrictions on travel out of Kuwait, but only for critically ill patients, students who have to join studies overseas and Kuwaiti citizens who have a spouse living abroad or who themselves live overseas. Authorities will also study other requests on a case-by-case basis. In all cases, travel period should be at least for 30 days.
Those willing to travel must carry out any coronavirus treatments or tests at their personal expense and must not demand to be repatriated by the government. Airlines carrying passengers to Kuwait airport will be asked for a PCR test of each passenger conducted at least four days before boarding the flight, and must provide a certificate in Arabic, the Cabinet said.
Health Minister Sheikh Basel Al-Sabah told the news conference that the ministry has reported a rise in the number of cases in 10 predominantly Kuwaiti residential areas, and warned that authorities may decide to isolate these areas in the future if the number of cases continues to rise.
The minister said that in some isolated areas, authorities have also completely locked down 145 residential buildings to prevent the spread of the disease. He said that the ministry has set up 10 testing centers in various governorates. Mezrem appealed to the public to comply with the health guidelines, mainly observing social distancing and not gathering.
Based on figures announced by the health ministry, Kuwaitis infected with COVID-19 have topped the list for most of the last three weeks when the government announced a five-phase return to normal life, each phase extending over a three-week period.