CORONAVIRUS:KUWAIT OFW QUARANTINE DAY #39- Enforcing Quarantine Protocols with Technology

April 19, 2020, Sunday

“Through each crisis in my life, with acceptance and hope, in a single defining moment, I finally gained the courage to do things differently.” 

– Sharon E. Rainey

The 21st Century is a period rife with innovation and daily breakthroughs in the development of artificial intelligence, interconnectivity, and social media platforms.  As such, the use of these technological advancements plays a pivotal role in the lives of millions, especially during this pandemic.

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health announced 164 new COVID-19 cases with 25 additional recoveries, and one further coronavirus death being recorded. This brings to a total tally of 1915 cases, with 305 recovered cases and seven deaths. Within the new evidence, one hundred and fifty-eight of them had contact with confirmed cases with 6 being Kuwaiti nationals, 97 cases of Indian residents, 13 instances of Bangladeshi residents, 26 cases of Egyptian residents, 1 Pakistani resident, 2 cases of Syrian residents, 1 American resident, one Saudi resident, 1 Palestinian resident, 1 Lebanese resident and one case of an Iranian resident. Other cases include 2 Kuwaiti nationals, 2 Bangladeshi residents, 1 Jordanian, and 1 Syrian resident.

 One thousand, six hundred and three patients are currently receiving medical treatment, while 38 are in the intensive care unit with 20 cases being critical; another 18 are stable in the last 24 hours and five more cases being transferred to the ICU. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased. 

Implementing Quarantine Protocols with Technology

Today marks the 39th day of quarantine and the 29th day of the curfew. As such, the Government of Kuwait has seen fit to further its capabilities in implementing the quarantine protocols by using technology. Thus the Ministry of Health released a statement to the press that it has recently launched a mobile application called Shlonik, which helps monitor the home quarantined individuals.

This comes in light of Kuwait’s massive repatriation program of its citizens who were stranded abroad due to the virus and are expected to enter the country in large numbers. The application serves as a tool that helps the Ministry of Health ensure that repatriated individuals remain fervent in their commitment to abide by the home quarantine through digital monitoring. All repatriated individuals are required to install the app on their phones and turn the Bluetooth on. Shlonik will track their movements and travels to which the data is then submitted to the Ministry, which notifies the authorities if they broke the quarantine protocols and left their homes.

Should individuals violate the quarantine, the Ministry of Health would immediately contact their loved ones or immediate family members to take a picture or live video of the said individual in order to confirm their location. The Ministry will also take part in the initiative to contact the quarantined individuals at random intervals, asking them to take live selfies, which are then examined and matched with their previously sent photos

Furthermore, the application has additional features, which include the latest health updates, a health bot, a check-in for quarantined patients’ vitals check, and a communication link to the MOH medical teams. The Ministry has currently trained and employed about 100 doctors and medical professionals in making full use of the app’s features and capabilities in order to check the status of quarantined individuals. Those who violate the quarantine rules will be punished under the full extent of the law, which includes jail time of about three months or a fine of up to KD 5,000 or both. The Ministry has also facilitated the distribution of electronic, barcoded bracelets to all returnees to make sure they do not leave their homes

The Ministry of Health expressed its fervent desire to ensure the safe return of its citizens in a manner, which does not endanger the health of the general public. In order to do so, the Ministry spokesperson, Dr. Abdullah Al-Sanad, has announced a set of conditions, which allows the returnees to opt for home quarantine instead of the state, sponsored one. He stated that the returnee’s status must be stable and has a separate, well-ventilated bedroom for quarantine. He also stressed the importance of identifying the specific individuals who will cater to the returnee’s needs until such time the quarantine period is over.

This Sunday in a televised speech, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah expressed his great joy over the arrival of the repatriated Kuwaiti nationals who were stranded abroad during the pandemic, this initiative was part of a program by the government in helping its citizens return home safely to their families and loved ones. He then warmly affirmed the returnees that everyone in the country was eager to see them and encouraged them to follow the quarantine protocols set by the Ministry to prevent the further transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

His Highness, the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, delivering his speech to the Kuwaiti returnees


His Highness the Amir also expressed his praise towards His Highness, the prime minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hmad Al-Sabah, to help implement the directives issued by the state in making sure that every Kuwaiti abroad is safely returned to the country before the Holy Month of Ramadan. He hoped the repatriation plan would come along positively and expressed his hopes for an end to the current Coronavirus pandemic. Kuwait’s quarantine measures have also garnered praise from the World Health Organization, which according to His Highness, the Amir should serve as an inspiration for the people of Kuwait to strictly follow the guidelines set by the health authorities of Kuwait in order to prevent the further transmission of the virus.

The current pandemic has already claimed the lives of thousands worldwide and has also devastated many countries’ economies. Despite all this, I am grateful for the Kuwaiti Government for doing its absolute best in helping mitigate the transmission of the virus and the various repercussions that may come after. I thank the people of Kuwait, both the public and private sectors, both residents and expatriates, for their continued efforts to fight this pandemic. I encourage everyone to continue in cooperation, unity, and solidarity, along with the strict compliance of quarantine guidelines so that we may be able to prevail in this crisis.

Updates on the Ramadan This Sunday, Kuwait’s Ministry of Justice released a statement to the press, which announced that the committee of the Ramadan Moonsighting would convene this coming Wednesday, Shaaban 29th, for the year 1441 AH (April 22) in order to sight the holy month’s crescent of Ramadan.

The said convention will be held at the headquarters of the Supreme Judicial Council which will be overseen by the Head of the Supreme Judicial Council and the Head of the Cassation and Constitutional Courts, Counselor Yosef Al-Mutawa along with the presence of the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Counselor Dr. Fahad Al-Afasy.

Violations During Quarantine

This Sunday, the authorities from the Ministry of Trade and Industry have apprehended and seized a grocery inside the Farwaniya Governorate that sponsored the sale of state-supported catering goods, which were distributed under humanitarian grounds. Such practices are a direct and clear violation of the laws set by the Ministry.

Distributed Goods being Sold in Farwaniya

They also seized masks that the operators of the said groceries manufactured in violation of specifications and standards. The Ministry has since then drawn the seizure of the said materials and has referred it to the relevant authorities.

Updates from the Philippine Embassy

In the Philippines, the Department of Health announced 172 new COVID-19 cases with twelve additional deaths and fifty-six recoveries. It brings to a total tally of 6,259 cases with 409 fatalities and 572 recovered incidents. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases decreased.

Update of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines on April 19, 2020

In Kuwait, the Philippine Embassy extends its gratitude towards the Kuwait Government for its aid regarding the repatriation of our Filipino brothers and sisters who are stranded in the country.  As of April 17, 67% or 2,107 of the 3,132 land-based OFWs who were repatriated to PH due to the COVID 19 pandemic are from Kuwait.

Likewise, I am also thankful for Madam Amalia Ikdal, and the CEE Culinary Arts Masterchefs and Chefs for their food donations to the relief drive for OFWs who are affected by the coronavirus lockdown in Kuwait. Their assistance during this crisis really goes a long way toward helping our stranded OFW’s survive the pandemic.

In General Santos City, The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has recently shouldered all the medical bills of the city’s lone confirmed 2019 coronavirus, which was discharged over the weekend after almost two weeks of confinement. The PhilHealth office’s social insurance assistant, Adrian Nicholas, released a statement that announced that agency settled the patient’s (PH 3669) bills amounting to around PHP700,000 based on the guidelines earlier set by their central office for Covid-19 cases.

Hannah Naanep, PhilHealth-12 public information officer, also announced that they thoroughly covered the hospitalization expenses of all confirmed Covid-19 patients who were admitted to various facilities in the entire Soccsksargen from April 1 to 14. In a statement to the press, Naanep said their benefits administration section handled the disbursements for the patients.

As the Philippine Government persists in its fight against the pandemic, I encourage our fellow Filipino expatriates in Kuwait who still have absconding cases to avail themselves of the Amnesty Program being offered by the Government of Kuwait. Although the Philippine Embassy and the Kuwaiti authorities are trying their best to help our expatriates return home, they can only do so much without our cooperation. I am very thankful to the Government of Kuwait for their generosity in supporting our OFW’s return home, going so far as even to provide them with adequate food for their sustenance and also with lodgings for them to stay until they are to be sent home.

I am confident that our two countries can bring about the common good of our citizens through cooperation and solidarity. Furthermore, I am truly thankful and impressed by the initiative that the Government of Kuwait has shown in the midst of the pandemic. They have indeed made sure to explore all possible avenues to mitigate and address the logistical problems associated with the repatriation of its citizens. Not only does the app monitor the returnee’s movements, but it will also allow doctors and medical staff to be in constant communication with the quarantined individuals in following up their health conditions, especially with the detection of coronavirus symptoms.

Kaniyang inilatag ang ulap na pinakakubong; at apoy upang magbigay liwanag sa gabi,Sila’y nagsihingi, at dinalhan niya ng mga pugo, at binusog niya sila ng pagkain na mula sa langit.Kaniyang ibinuka ang bato at binukalan ng tubig; nagsiagos sa tuyong mga dako na parang ilog. 

Mga Awit 105:39-41

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Author

  • Gracia Amor, A Multi-Award winner blogger; Presidential Award; Mass Media Advocacy Award, Philippine Expat Blog Award, and Most Outstanding Balikbayan Award. An OFW and Investment Literacy Advocate. Her first book, the Global Filipino Bloggers OFW Edition, reviewed and launched at Philippine Embassy Kuwait. Became a certified Registered Financial Planner of the Philippines (RFP), with specialization in Stock Market. Currently, a position PH stock trader in PSE. Digital Marketing Specialist. A proud founder of Teachers Specialist Org in Kuwait TSOK, Filipino Bloggers in Kuwait FBK. A Poet and a Photo hobbyist in between.

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