April 28, 2020, Tuesday
“Maybe it did take a crisis to get to know yourself; maybe you needed to get whacked hard by life before you understood what you wanted out of it.”Jodi Picoult
As the Coronavirus continues to restrict travel and commercial services throughout the world, the effective and competent management of the Kuwaiti government in containing the pandemic has led to the gradual reopening of car services in the country.
In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health announced 152 new COVID-19 cases with 164 additional recoveries, and one other coronavirus deaths being recorded. This brings to a total tally of 3440 cases, with 1176 recovered cases and 23 deaths. Within the new instances, fifteen were related to travel with 12 of them being Kuwaiti nationals who traveled to the United Kingdom, 2 Kuwait nationals who went to Turkey, and one Kuwaiti resident who went to France One hundred and twenty-eight of them had contact with confirmed cases with 20 being Kuwaiti nationals, 64 cases of Indian residents, 12 instances of Bangladeshi residents, six instances of Nepali residents, five instances of Pakistani residents, 1 Syrian resident, 3 Saudi residents, 1 Syrian resident, and 1 Jordanian resident. Other cases under investigation include 5 cases Kuwaiti nationals., 3 Syrian residents, and one case of an Iraqi resident.
Two thousand, two hundred and forty-one patients are currently receiving medical treatment, while 64 are in the intensive care unit with 67 cases being critical; another 34 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.
Easing Restrictions on Auto Repair Services
Today marks the 48th day of the quarantine, 38th day of the curfew, and the 5th day of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Since then, the Municipality of Kuwait has set the precautionary rules and guidelines that must be followed by the owners and employees of the auto repair shops, which have been mandated to resume their services. In a press statement by the General Director of the Kuwait Municipality, Ahmed Al-Manfuhi, he announced that the Cabinet of Ministers has issued out a directive which ordered the resumption of services of garages that were located in the vicinity of cooperative societies and gas stations in all regions, those gas stations located on the side of highways, and also the garages located in the areas of Kabd, Abdali and Wafra.
Al-Manfouhi also stressed the importance of the owners’ commitment towards the conditions and controls that must be adhered to by workers in those auto repair shops during the practice of work, where they have to leave a distance between people not less than one meter. The auto shops were also instructed to carry out their work only during the period of partial curfew. Those who do not abide by these regulations would be subject to legal action and be ordered to close down.
I admire the Kuwaiti Government for having the necessary foresight in implementing precautionary health measures in the gradual reopening of these auto repair services. Not only does this provide the citizens of Kuwait with the services they need during this crisis, but it also goes a long way in ensuring the health and safety of the employees, customers, and staff.
Makeshift Markets in Isolated Areas
Despite the ongoing lockdown and the heavy presence and round the clock patrols of security personnel in the Jleeb Al-Shuyuokh area, makeshift markets are still being operated in some internal streets with noticeable crowds appearing mainly before prayers.
During a tour in the region, these areas were easy to spot despite the intense security presence while charity authorities worked to distribute bread and foodstuffs in the region.
Although necessary, these practices serve as potential breeding grounds for the Coronavirus due to the observable overcrowding and blatant neglect in adhering to the preventative health measures set by the health authorities regarding social distancing. My sympathies go out to those affected by the lockdown, and they do reserve the right to be able to purchase the necessary goods in order for them to survive. However, it is also important to remember that containing the spread of the Coronavirus remains a top priority, and these residents should also understand the risks of purchasing unknown goods in these markets. I hope the relevant authorities would investigate more in this matter and find a way to bring goods to the residents and expatriates of the Jleeb Al-Shuyuokh area so that they no longer have to risk their lives to buy the food they need.
Kuwait Receives Chinese Medical Team
This Tuesday, the Health Minister Sheikh Dr. Basel Al-Sabah received the visiting Chinese medical team, discussing the recent developments of the Coronavirus and also the ways with which they could combat this threat. The delegation of the Kuwaiti Health Ministry included Undersecretary Dr. Musatfa Redha, Secretary-General of the Kuwait Institute for Medical Specialization Dr. Fawaz Al-Refai, and other health officials from the two sides.
Both sides exchanged experiences addressing the coronavirus pandemic, the visit lasting for three days will include many field visits and meetings with specialists in the ministry of health. This only proves that the bonds of friendship and cooperation of China and Kuwait only continue to deepen throughout this pandemic as they persist in their solidarity in combating the Sars-CoV-2 contagion. I am thankful for the assistance that the Chinese government has given Kuwait regarding their generosity in sharing their experiences with how to better handle the pandemic.
Updates on the Country’s Repatriation Efforts
This Tuesday, the Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr. Ahmend Al-Nasser spoke to the National Assembly at the behest of the Pekaer and the members of the council in order to discuss the matters regarding the cases of residence violators whose countries refuse to accept them and the measures that they can come up with in order to deal with this issue. This is partly due to the fact that some of these countries do not have the capabilities to receive their expatriates due to the pandemic. Furthermore, the Minister of Social Affairs, Minister of State for Economic Affairs, also discussed to the committee regarding the Kuwaiti Government’s plan to reduce the number of expatriates, especially those with absconding cases and expired residence visas.
In light of these efforts, there have been many residence violators who turned up in the amnesty processing centers in the Farwaniya and Jleeb areas. Today marks the second day of the amnesty processing program launched by the Ministry of Interior and, as such, around 1,500 residence violators of varying nationalities, mostly being of Asian and African descent. The head of the evacuation center, Major General Abdin Al-Abidin, released a statement that announced that the amnesty centers are currently doing their best in ensuring that the residency violators are processed more swiftly so that everyone can avail of the program within the set deadline.
According to Al-Abideen, a total of 17,700 residence violators, noting that 2,000 of them were Filipinos, have already been processed by the reception centers and have since left the country. He also said that the shelter holds about 15,700 violators of various nationalities, which were mostly Indians, about 4,500 in number. These numbers are expected to rise to more than 20,000 within the month as they await their countries’ responses to the deportation process.
He also praised the actions of the various embassies in Sudan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and Kenya, amongst others, for the assistance they gave to their citizens regarding the travel back home. He pointed out that around 1,500 violators have already been processed and transferred yesterday to the assigned shelters for their repatriation back home. Major General Al-Abideen also rendered humanitarian assistance to the large number of residence violators currently residing in the centers by giving them accommodations, food and drink up until their papers were finished processing and were evacuated to the shelter.
I appreciate the Kuwaiti Government’s efforts in ensuring the safe return of the expatriates of Kuwait, especially in the excellent care they exercised to our Filipino brothers and sisters in Kuwait. I am also thankful to the government’s authorities for ensuring the well-being of the residency violators by going so far as to provide them with food, water, and even lodgings. As the coronavirus pandemic persists, I encourage everyone to exercise the same actions of kindness and generosity, especially to the ones most in need.
Updates from the Philippine Embassy
In the Philippines, the Department of Health announced 181 new COVID-19 cases with nineteen additional deaths and forty-three recoveries. It brings to a total tally of 7,958 cases with 530 fatalities and 975 recovered cases. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased.
This Tuesday, The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait has been deploying its full capabilities and personnel in assisting our Filipino brothers and sisters in Kuwait with the processing of their amnesty documents so that they can safely come home.
In a statement released to the press by the Consul General to Kuwait, Noordin Pendosina N. Lomondot said that the Embassy, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are pooling their collective efforts and resources in speeding up the applications of our undocumented Filipino expatriates with expired residency visas.
Furthermore, Chargé d’Affaires and Vice Consul Charleson C. Hermosura have expressed the Philippine Embassy’s eagerness to help the Filipino expatriates so that they can be united with their families at the soonest possible time. To date, close to 2,000 undocumented and distressed Filipinos are now back in the Philippines after joining the amnesty program. By applying for amnesty from the Kuwaiti government, they neither had to pay for any immigration fine nor be subjected to deportation, giving them the chance to return and work in Kuwait again.
Yet again, I wish to encourage everyone who still has absconding cases or expired residency permits to continue applying for the amnesty program given by the Government of Kuwait, which are in the following locations. They will only be open from 26th until April 30 from 8 AM until 2 PM.
In order to apply for the Amnesty Program in the Areas of Farwaniya and Jleeb Al-Shuyuokh, simply bring your valid passport and your luggage not exceeding a 20 kg check-in baggage and one 7kg hand carry bag.
To those who are unable to procure a passport, simply go to the Philippine Embassy in order to avail of a travel document and bring three passport-sized ID photos with a blue background and a photocopy of their civil ID or entry visa.
I am thankful for the efforts of the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait and also to the Office of the President for the invaluable assistance that they have provided in helping our OFW’s stranded in Kuwait to return home safely to their families. I also commend them for working together with the Government of Kuwait in fast-tracking the amnesty of our displaced citizens. Even to the Public Authority for Manpower for extending free transportation to those affected by the suspension of travel in Kuwait. I also praise the boundless generosity of Kuwait’s Government for giving our amnesty grantees with temporary shelter, food, medical provisions, and even one-way tickets to the Philippines that were all procured at their expense.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put a significant strain on our healthcare and public services, many individuals’ charitable acts went a long way in helping the most needy sectors of our society. This only proves to show that despite the challenges we face, every single one of us is capable of kindness and generosity.
As Mother Teresa once said, if you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed one. Likewise, we must exercise the same charitable acts to the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society who have been especially hit hard by this pandemic. Although our actions may seem meager in the greater expanse of things, it is with great confidence that I assure everyone that by this small act of kindness, you have already brought about the most significant change in that person’s life.
Walang takot sa pagibig: kundi ang sakdal na pagibig ay nagpapalayas ng takot, sapagka’t ang takot ay may kaparusahan; at ang natatakot ay hindi pa pinasasakdal sa pagibig.1Juan 4:18
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