By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The ministry of health yesterday reported 2,999 new coronavirus cases, the highest number ever on a single day since the outbreak of the pandemic. This number is greatly larger than the number of cases reported in the three months between Sept 15 and Dec 15, during which only around 2,500 cases were reported, according to official figures. This shows the intensity of the disease in the current wave.

As many as 16,800 new cases were reported by ministry in the first nine days of January, with over 20,000 new cases reported since the middle of December, around 10 times the rate reported in the previous three months. The ministry yesterday urged people to shun travel plans except in urgent cases and called on people arriving from abroad to comply with home quarantine procedures.

The ministry also called on the public in a statement to comply with using facemasks to cover mouth and nose and not mingle with people when experiencing symptoms like coughing and sneezing. The Cabinet is expected to discuss today recommendations made by the coronavirus ministerial emergency committee, which met on Thursday. The nature of the recommendations has not yet been made public.

The ministry has also urged the public to take the third booster dose, which reportedly strengthens the body's immunity against COVID-19. The ministry said people over 50 years of age who had taken the second dose six months ago can go to vaccination centers without prior appointment to take the third dose. People aged between 16 and 50 should take prior appointments for the third vaccine dose, according to the ministry. Kuwait on Thursday announced the newly appointed health minister Khaled Al-Saeed tested positive for the disease and was under home quarantine.

Meanwhile, Education Ministry Undersecretary Ali Al-Yaqoub said yesterday that ministry has not decided to return to distance learning, adding that the situation at schools is well and under control. He said after attending a meeting at the National Assembly that the number of coronavirus cases among students is normal and at present there is no need to return to online learning. The official said the ministry allowed a number of foreign schools to implement online learning temporarily until a number of teachers end home quarantine after returning to the country.

Separately, 10 MPs yesterday submitted a request calling to convene a special National Assembly session to debate laws to create more jobs for citizens and resolving the problem of stateless people. The lawmakers proposed the session to be held on Wednesday, but there has been no immediate response from the speaker or the government.

The motion, backed by some other lawmakers, demands that the Assembly debates amendments to a number of laws to create more job opportunities for Kuwaiti citizens in the public sector. They also want to debate a draft law calling to grant over 100,000 bedoons their basic civil rights of free education and health services, in addition to easy access to personal documents, until their problem is permanently resolved.