April 29, 2020, Wednesday
“Close scrutiny will show that most ‘ crises’ are opportunities to either advance or stay where you are.”– Maxwell Maltz
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put significant pressure on our healthcare systems and public services, many employers and laborers have been forced to suspend their commercial activities due to their inability to pay for their rents.
In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health announced 300 new COVID-19 cases with 213 additional recoveries, and one further coronavirus death being recorded. This brings to a total tally of 3740 cases, with 1389 recovered cases and 24 deaths.
Within the new evidence, two were related to travel, with 1 of them being a Kuwaiti national who went to the U.S.A., and one Kuwaiti resident who went to France. Two hundred and ninety-four of them had contact with confirmed cases with 27 being Kuwaiti nationals, 87 cases of Indian residents, 92 cases of Bangladeshi residents, 10 cases of Nepali residents, eight instances of Pakistani residents, 3 Syrian residents, 2 N.K. residents, 2 K.S.A. residents, 2 Sri Lankan residents, 2 Filipinos, 2 Lebanese, 2 Jordanian residents, 1 Burmese, 1 U.S. resident, 1 Tunisian, 1 Afghan and 1 Turkey resident. Other cases under investigation include 4 Kuwaiti nationals.
Two thousand, three hundred and twenty-seven patients are currently receiving medical treatment, while 66 are in the intensive care unit with 28 cases being critical; another 38 are stable in the last 24 hours, and five more cases being transferred to the I.C.U. With another five more being transferred to the ward. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased.
Status of the Cooperatives in Kuwait
Today marks the 49th day of the quarantine, 39th day of the curfew, and the 6th day of the curfew. Since then, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Commerce and Industry released a statement that instructed the closure of a retail store due to violating the rules and regulations set by the Ministry in preventing and containing the spread of the pandemic. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has also sent its inspection teams to examine approximately 149 cooperative societies, supermarkets, and vegetable stands in order to make sure that they remain committed to implementing the proper prices of their products in addition to editing ten records of violating commercial stores.
The inspection teams also monitored about 71 catering branches to ensure the flow of sales and delivery of food to their customers and constituents and also reopening three retail stores. In light of these efforts, the Shamiya and Shuwaikh Cooperative Society have announced the closure of their services due to the discovery of infection among their volunteers. The administration building is to be closed for seven days. Likewise, the Saad Abdullah Association also announced the closure of their building for two days after an accounting officer was also infected with the virus.
As we all strive to provide ourselves during this pandemic, it is of utmost importance that we remain committed to the stringent health measures prescribe by the health authorities. Although these cooperatives provide us with essential services, I encourage everyone to come into these areas only when the need arises so as to minimize the risks of infecting themselves or the employers and their staff. I pray for the recovery and well-being of those who have been infected and hope for a swift end for this virus.
Suspension of Recruitment Activities
This Wednesday, the General Assembly of the Kuwait Federation led by Thamer Al-Sawagh released a statement that announced the turnover of the offices of the residential apartments of almost more than 40 domestic labor recruitment offices in the Fahaleel area. However, their licenses remain valid and are to be maintained until the market is open for recruitment, which is expected to be at the end of this year or early 2021.
This comes in light of the government’s difficulty in bringing back domestic workers at the end of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which made the applicants of certain countries a little more reluctant to return. Despite these challenges, the domestic workers have expressed a strong desire to complete their contracts and stay in Kuwait. This reflects the amicable and functional relationship between the sponsors and the domestic workers. It encourages them to work together and solve the problems they had in the past. Al-Sawagh also pointed out that the labor sponsorship in most areas is over, and the rest of the issues currently experienced by both parties are matters that can be resolved over the phone.
The Arrival of Medical Supplies from China
This Wednesday, the Ministry of Defense released a statement to the press, which confirmed a Kuwaiti plane laden with medical supplies and equipment from the Government of China in order to help in the fight against the coronavirus. According to the Ministries of Defense and Health, this was part of an initiative between the various ministries of the government, and that of China is making sure that Kuwait has all the tools it needs in combating the virus. Likewise, the Kuwait Ministry of Health denied an allegation regarding rumors that a Chinese medical team made recommendations regarding the coronavirus situation in the country.
The spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Dr. Abdullah Al-Sanah, further emphasized that these comments were false and unfounded saying that the Chinese team only visited the Shlonik Application Center and commended the government’s use of technology in the fight against the virus. He also added that the medical team from China would visit Jaber Al-Hamad tomorrow, Thursday.
I am thankful for the coordination and the great assistance that Kuwait and China’s governments have displayed throughout the course of this pandemic. These bilateral efforts not only help to further the existing bonds of friendship between both countries, but they also play a pivotal role in increasing our medical staff’s capabilities and security men in dealing with this virus. Let us continue to put our faith in the government as they do their best in dealing with this crisis.
The Situation of Expatriates in Kuwait
This Wednesday, the Ministry of Interior released a statement to the press, which announced that the amnesty period for residence violators would no longer be extended; hence the last day for the amnesty program will be on the 30th of April as per the prescribed schedule. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Anas Al-Saleh have since then examined a report by the security personnel from the processing centers, which revealed that the extended duration of the expatriates places significant pressure on the country’s resources, security personnel, and public services, especially during the looming health crisis. As of now, 25,000 expatriates our of the approximately 160,000 violators have availed themselves of the amnesty program, which meant that about 135,000 of these undocumented residence violators are still at large in the residential areas of Kuwait.
This Wednesday, 17,428 expatriates were quarantined in more than one location after they were exposed to coronavirus infections from early March till yesterday. Although the quarantine facilities are fully capable of handling the large numbers of expatriate workers infected with the virus, the increasing rates of infection have begun to take its toll on the doctors, nurses, and medical staff in these medical facilities. As of now, 105 from medical staff and nurses have already been infected from coronavirus.
This only puts into perspective the amount of dedication and sacrifice that our medical front liners have offered in the fight against the looming pandemic. I am very thankful that no effort has been spared in fighting the coronavirus, whether by controlling its financial or human capabilities to deal with the developments. Sacrifices of medical and nursing staff are continuing around the clock to ensure that the virus is contained and hotspots are brought under control. I am thankful for their commitment to upholding Kuwait’s health, especially to those who have been infected with the virus. Thus, let us show our gratitude by helping them in this fight. Stay at home, practice social distancing, and come out only when you need to. Our frontliners cannot win this fight alone, and it is only with unity that we can hope to overcome this crisis.
Updates from the Philippine Embassy
In the Philippines, the Department of Health announced 254 new COVID-19 cases with twenty-eight additional deaths and forty-eight recoveries. It brings to a total tally of 8,212 cases with 558 fatalities and 1,023 recovered cases. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased.
The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait has recently released a statement which seeks to inform those members of the Filipino community who have applied for the government of Kuwait’s amnesty program yet have travel bans due to unpaid telecom bills to please proceed to Al Muthanna Primary School for Boys, located at Street 122, Block 1 in Farwaniya, between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM on or before 30 April 2020 through which only cash payments will be accepted.
As of now, the Ooredoo, STC (formerly Viva), and Zain have set up booths at the amnesty processing center in Farwaniya to accept, with a 30 percent discount, full payments for unpaid bills. Those individuals whose applications were rejected last 1-5 of April but have already completed their financial obligations may also proceed to the booths of Ooredoo, STC, and Zain at Al Muthanna Primary School for Boys, where they will begin the process of removing their travel bans.
Today is also the second to the last day of the amnesty program by the Government of Kuwait, and thus I am appealing to all undocumented Filipino Expatriates whose residency permits have already expired and also Filipinos with absconding cases to continue applying to the above-mentioned program. Those qualified are to proceed to the processing centers in Farwaniya on the 26th until the 30th of April 2020, from 8 AM until 2 PM.
Men and women will have separate processing centers with men being designated to the Muthanna Primary School for Boys, which on Farwaniya, Block 1 Street 122, and women on Farwaniya Primary School for Girls, which is on Farwaniya Block 1, street 76.
Once approved, however, the amnesty grantees will no longer be allowed to leave the processing center, and thus it is advised that they collect all their belongings and finish any prior businesses before doing so. They will then be sent to a temporary shelter up until the time of their departure.
Not all new passports will be affected in this delay, but regardless, the Embassy wishes to remind the public that the release of new passports is only for emergency cases, especially to those whose passports or residence visas have already expired. Passport claiming for non-emergency cases will resume once the official holidays in Kuwait are over.
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.
The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait also wishes to express its gratitude towards the men and women of the LBC Express for its food donations in POLO-OWWA’s relief drive. I am thankful for the efforts of the Government of Kuwait, the Philippine Government, and to all the generous individuals who contributed to the repatriation and welfare of the Filipino community in Kuwait. I wish the people of Kuwait and all our Muslim brothers and sisters in the Philippines and all over the world a blessed and happy Ramadan.
Admittedly, this year has been a very rough one, especially with the devastation that the current pandemic has brought down upon the globe. However, as we go through this together, we need to make the best with what we have now, especially when in some parts world, grocery shelves are running empty. We may not always get what we want, but with time, let us trust God to help us find what we truly need. Perhaps this an opportunity He has given us to reflect on our past transgressions and deepen our bonds with Him and those of our loved ones.
Let us all embrace the possibility that this crisis may have some unforeseen positive impact upon us. As the famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. For a start, the charitable actions of our government and that of other generous individuals should give us some degree of motivation that there is still some good left in this world no matter how chaotic it may be. Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it isn’t the end.
Ikaw ay hindi matatakot sa kakilabutan sa gabi, ni sa pana man na humihilagpos kung araw;Dahil sa salot na dumarating sa kadiliman, ni dahil sa paggiba man na sumisira sa katanghaliang tapat.Mga Awit 91:5, 6
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