By B Izzak 

KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday decided to cut the duration of home quarantine for vaccinated passengers arriving in the country to seven days, which can be ended immediately after a negative PCR test, the Center for Government Communication said. The health ministry recently changed health protocols to deal with a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of new cases reported yesterday crossing 5,000 for the first time.

Arriving passengers had been required to undergo home quarantine for 10 days, but it could be terminated with a negative PCR test result three days after arrival. The new decision is effective from today. The ministry of justice said yesterday that Justice Minister Jamal Al-Jalawi tested positive for COVID-19 and has isolated himself. He is carrying out his duties remotely, the ministry said in a statement.

The health ministry has said people who contract COVID should isolate at home for seven days if fully vaccinated and 10 days if not, while people who come in contact with infected people should undergo home quarantine for 14 days. But vaccinated people can end the quarantine after seven days with a negative PCR test result.

The ministry of health yesterday reported 5,147 new cases, a record high, with one death. The number of patients in intensive care units rose to 33, while the number of patients in hospitals dropped slightly to 266. The infection rate also jumped to 16.2 percent. The number of active cases rose to 43,356, but the number of recoveries also increased by almost 1,000 to 3,203 cases.

Kuwait has been reporting record numbers of coronavirus cases for the past three weeks. The government last week ordered a reduction in the number of staff in the public sector to a maximum of 50 percent and called on the private sector to also cut the number of employees in offices. It also cut the number of passengers on public transport to 50 percent.

The government also decided to ban conferences, meetings and social events in a bid to counter the spread of the pandemic. Authorities have urged people to defer travel plans unless necessary and banned people who had taken the second dose nine months ago from leaving the country before taking the third booster dose.