KUWAIT: This file photo taken on September 26, 2021 shows students arriving to school after in-person classes resumed in Kuwait. - Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Kuwait could soon take another big step towards returning to normal life as the government mulls lifting mask mandates outdoors and re-allowing large gatherings for fully vaccinated individuals while the health situation in the country continues its drastic improvement since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kuwait's Cabinet is expected to discuss a report on returning to normal life during its weekly meeting today, a local daily reported yesterday, noting that opening up some activities that are still closed could be on the table for discussion. Activities expected to resume are multipurpose halls, allowing gatherings and standing closer in mosques during prayers, in addition to allowing people to not wear masks in open places, Al-Qabas Arabic newspaper reported quoting sources familiar with the government's internal discussions.

The report will touch on the coronavirus situation in Kuwait, drop in cases and deaths and ICU admittance. The ministers are also expected to deliberate a report on cases in schools and indicators of the spread of infection, whose numbers indicate they are not a cause for worry, said the sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet could also discuss a recommendation for issuing entry visas for foreigners from Nov 1 for all commercial activities. The same newspaper quoted a government source in a separate report who said that health authorities "were expected to accept this recommendation due to the stable health situation and the drop in the number of COVID cases in Kuwait." The coronavirus emergency committee had previously agreed to allow granting visas for all activities related to food security.

Booster shots

In the meantime, Kuwait is expected to receive the first shipments of the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses by late 2021 or early 2022, Al-Jarida Arabic newspaper reported yesterday quoting informed sources. The doses will also be used to administer booster shots to people fully vaccinated in Kuwait after they have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose, the anonymous sources added.

The number of new coronavirus cases reported by the Ministry of Health has dropped to below 100 for well over a month with the number of cases under 50 for more than two weeks, while health authorities have managed to vaccinate over 80 percent of the population. The health ministry has reported on Saturday that only eight patients were being treated at intensive care units and just 20 are admitted at hospitals. The ministry reported only 39 new COVID-19 cases detected from 14,688 swab tests taken, in addition to a single coronavirus-related death on the same day.

Several countries in the region have recently taken measures to ease COVID-19 restrictions after recording sharp drop in daily infections and a considerable development in vaccinations. Saudi Arabia began yesterday easing COVID-19 curbs that include lifting social distancing and allowing full-capacity attendance at the Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah for those who have taken the full dose of vaccines. Authorities also canceled curbs on fully vaccinated people at closed venues, gatherings, transportation, restaurants and cinemas. Furthermore, masks are no longer mandatory at public open places while still imposed at closed venues.