KUWAIT: All public sector employees returned to work yesterday, as did traffic jams. - KUNA

KUWAIT: Government departments yesterday witnessed a return to official working hours with 100 percent employee capacity, a year and a half after the coronavirus outbreak prompted authorities to reduce the number of civil servants showing up to work as a precautionary measure against COVID-19. Employee turnout was gradually upped as measures were eased after indicators showed dwindling numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths amid an intensive national campaign to immunize as many people as possible. It is expected that 70 percent of people in Kuwait will be vaccinated by the end of summer.

Only 306 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Kuwait in the past 24 hours, taking total cases to 406,540, while three more fatalities took the death toll to 2,389, the health ministry said yesterday. Official ministry spokesperson Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad said 606 more people recovered from the virus, taking total recoveries to 397,247.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus currently stands at 446, of whom 205 are in intensive care units, in addition to 6,904 active cases, he said. Some 10,757 swab tests were conducted over the past day, taking total tests to almost 3.6 million, Dr Sanad added, saying the positive case-to-swab test ratio stands at 2.84 percent.

HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah on Thursday affirmed that by the end of September, the vaccination rate will reach 70 percent of the country's population, "thus we will achieve community (herd) immunity that will enable us to resume normal life". Until now, 2.6 million people in Kuwait have been vaccinated, equivalent to approximately 66 percent of the population, the prime minister affirmed.

The Cabinet on Aug 4 announced resumption of regular official work hours at all public departments and sectors as of yesterday after Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah informed the ministers that the number of coronavirus cases in the country has been declining, along with the occupancy rate at hospitals and intensive care wards.

The Civil Service Commission has declared its commitment to the Cabinet decision, affirming that civil servants are no longer allowed to remain absent without legal grounds. Therefore, work is back to seven hours per day, the regular schedule. Dr Sanad recently declared that epidemical indexes showed a decline in the number of cases compared to swab tests, in addition to cases in intensive care units, lauding relentless efforts on the part of citizens and expatriates in the fight against the virus.

The decrease in cases coincided with rising vaccinations as part of the national immunization campaign covering both citizens and residents. Government departments resumed work after the Eid Al-Fitr holiday at 60 percent capacity. Only the health ministry had maintained 100 percent employee attendance since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, while the proportion of employees at other public sector bodies did not exceed 30 percent.

Meanwhile, the interior ministry said in a statement yesterday that based on instructions by Interior Minister Sheikh Thamer Al-Sabah and Undersecretary Lt Gen Issam Al-Naham, security personnel were deployed throughout the country to ensure the smooth flow of traffic during the daytime rush hours. The ministry deployed patrols and troops on main roads to ensure that civil servants and employees reach their workplaces without delay. - KUNA