May 25, 2020
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”-Maya Angelou-
Humans, as we are, when we face a challenging crisis, we would want to go home within our comfort zones. Hundreds of people remain stranded far away from their homes in this pandemic. For the safe return of these people, the authorities utilize all their available resources.
In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health reported 665 new COVID-19 cases with nine added deaths and 504 recovered cases. It brings to a total record of 21,967 cases with 165 fatalities and 6,621 recoveries. Within the new cases, 195 are Indian residents, 148 are Kuwait citizens, 96 are Egyptian residents, and 73 are Bangladeshi residents. In the governorates, there are 200 cases in Farwaniya, 190 in Ahmadi, 130 in Hawally, 90 in Jahra, and 55 in the Capital. Among the residential areas, Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh is the highest with a number of 62 cases. Currently, there are 15,181 active cases. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases decreased suddenly.
Re-opening of Outpatient Clinics
The Ministry of Health issued directions in restoring the operations of outpatient clinics in hospitals and health centers on May 31, 2020. Then, they asked these healthcare establishments for a plan to operate their clinics along with their names on the list. It is a part of the Health Ministry’s plan for the gradual return of work for outpatient clinics and medical facilities. Once it starts on May 31, its operations will continue to rise to 30 percent for July and 50 percent for August. By October, it will return to its full operations.
Strict Implementation by Security Forces
The authorities had a report about a group of expatriates in Hawally area gathering and playing football during the two-hour walking period from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Due to this event, the Ministry of Interior warned these expatriates for their violation against the total lockdown. Interior Ministry personnel noticed the incident as many expatriates gathered in one of the stadiums. They arrested the players immediately and confiscated the football that they were using. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior informed the public that violating the precautionary guidelines will lead to the punishment of imprisonment or deportation. Hence, one should avoid any gathering and keep physical distance when walking in public.
Moreover, the authorities arrested another 14 Kuwait citizens and two expatriates violating the curfew. It includes the 30-year-old woman who published a video on Snapchat wondering around her chalet during the curfew hours. The great efforts of these security forces in their strict implementation of the lockdown is very commendable. They remain alert and tactful for any violations that can lead to possible violations of the law.
Situation during Walking Period
A posted video shows the situation during the walking period from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Although other people managed to observe physical distancing, there are still small gatherings in the streets. The security forces do their best to prevent this kind of situation. Despite the authorities’ efforts, some people still chose to disobey the law and create small gatherings outside. In these instances, they are giving the virus a chance to spread further.
Death of Cooperative Employee
On the other hand, we will not forget the ones who sacrificed their lives during this pandemic. The authorities reported the death of Hussein Atta, an Egyptian employee from Rawda and Hawally Cooperative Society. He died because of COVID-19 disease as he risks his life serving the cooperative. The Cooperatives in the country play a major role in sustaining the availability of basic commodities for the community amidst the total lockdown.
Death of OFW Frontliner
It is disheartening to know that another Filipino hero succumbed to the COVID-19 disease while battling it as a frontliner. His name is Garry Calub, who is a Filipino paramedic in Kuwait. The authorities laid him to rest at the Sulaibikhat Cemetery. I will express my highest salute to this heroic frontliner for laying down his life against the pandemic. I will extend my heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family back to the Philippines.
Public Advisory of Philippine Embassy
The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait released another public advisory about the payment for staying at quarantine centers upon arrival in the Philippines. The Embassy informed the Overseas Filipino Workers who will be flying back to the country that there are specific agencies who will be paying for their cost of mandatory quarantine and their accommodation at the designated quarantine centers by the authorities. The agencies are Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for land-based OFWs and local manning agency or the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) for sea-based OFWs. For the returning Filipinos who are not OFWs, they have many government-approved quarantine centers to choose from the list. However, it is at their own expense.
If there are Filipinos in Kuwait who wish to return to the country, they may contact their preferred travel or airline agency for their flight booking. Nonetheless, the Embassy reminds its previous advice to adjourn their travel to the country to avoid any inconvenience because of the implemented community quarantine. Lastly, the Embassy informs stranded Kuwait-based Filipinos in the Philippines that the authorities still prohibit inbound commercial flights in the Kuwait International Airport.
Today marks the 63rd day of the curfew and 15th day of the total lockdown. The stringency of the implemented curfew by the country’s security officers of Kuwait is commendable. They always make sure that its violators will receive a punishment for putting the community at high risk.
Returning the Stranded OFWs
In the Philippines, the Department of Health announced 284 new COVID-19 cases with five additional deaths and 74 recoveries. It brings to a total record of 14,319 cases with 873 fatalities and 3,323 recovered cases. Within the new cases, 171 came from the National Capital Region, 70 came from Region 7 and 43 came from other provinces of the country. Currently, there are 10,123 active cases. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased. The increasing number of new cases in the country is alarming. Maybe this is because the country developed more COVID-19 testing laboratories for the citizens. If this is the reason for the sudden surge of cases, then it is good to know that our nation is catching up to determine the actual number of cases.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) affirmed 94 new Filipino COVID-19 cases abroad with 34 additional fatalities and ten recoveries. It brings to a total number of 2,617 cases a death toll of 328 and 889 recovered cases. The department further said that Europe and the Middle East have the highest number of COVID-19 Filipinos infected with the virus, Americas have the highest number of fatalities and Asia and Pacific has the fewest number of cases.
It is a great relief for the stranded Overseas Filipino Workers in Metro Manila after President Rodrigo Duterte announced his goal to send back 24,000 OFWs to their respective homes from their quarantine centers. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Duterte ordered the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Department of Health (DOH) that they have one week to ensure the return of 24,000 OFWs back home. It permits these specified agencies to utilize all available government resources for the transportations of these OFWs.
Moreover, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año instructed the police forces operating the quarantine control points (QCPs) to avoid delaying the OFWs’ transportation to their provinces. He confirmed that these OFWs would be using buses, airplanes, and ships. Rest assured, these OFWs have undergone RT-PCR testing with negative results. The reason for the delay in their return was due to the encoding, printing, and other functions.
Following the directives of President Duterte, the national government could utilize the available plans and ships of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the return of the OFWs, which may include the C-130 plane. The President affirmed that if transportation from private companies is not enough, then the national government permits the agencies to use the properties of Armed Forces.
With the mitigation of the strict quarantine measures in the country, the Philippine government plants on the implementation of barangay-based lockdown right after the end of the modified, enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that they would identify villages that have cases of COVID-19 as “critical zones,” its nearby villages as “containment zones” and the ones with no cases as “buffer zones.” They will place the critical zones under lockdown while buffer zones have eased restrictions. Nonetheless, he clarified that the imposition of lockdown is limited to villages, for they may implement it at smaller units such as neighborhoods and subdivisions. They will also assign more law enforces to the community.
I thank the Philippine authorities’ efforts for giving the stranded OFWs in the country a chance to return to their respective homes. In this time of the pandemic, it is tough to be away from their families. Through these chartered flights, they can face the threat of pandemic with their families at hand.
“Dalhin ninyo nang buong-buo ang inyong mga ikasampung bahagi sa tahanan ng diyos upang matugunan ang pangangailangan sa aking tahanan. Subukin ninyo ako sa bagay na ito, kung hindi ko buksan ang mga bintana ng langit at ibuhos sa inyo ang masaganang pagpapala.”Malakias 3:10
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