CORONAVIRUS DIARIES: Week #15 – Ending the First Phase in the Hands of the People

CORONAVIRUS DIARIES: Week #15 – Ending the First Phase in the Hands of the People

June 29, 2020

“Inspiring scenes of people taking the future of their countries into their own hands will ignite greater demands for good governance and political reform elsewhere in the world.”

William Hague

Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic has never been easy. Considering its high infectivity rate, it can reach many regions through the flow of people’s movement. Therefore, even if the government and different organizations implemented stringent health measures, it is still insufficient. It because it needs the main element that all governments worldwide have been asking.

It is the faithful compliance and discipline of all members of the community. As Kuwait plans to begin its second phase, each citizen and residents’ action in coping up with the pandemic is the prioritized component in returning the country to normality.

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health reported 582 new COVID-19 cases with two additional deaths and 582 recoveries. It brings to a total record of 45,524 cases with 350 fatalities and 36,313 recoveries. Within the latest cases, 319 are Kuwait citizens, and 263 are residents of various nationalities. In the governorates, Al Ahmadi has the highest number of recorded cases in 159 cases. Al Jahra follows it at 136, Al Farwaniya at 115, Hawally at 88, and the Capital at 85. In the residential areas, the highest one is in Saad Al Abdullah in 25 cases.

Update of COVID-19 Cases in Kuwait on June 29, 2020

Since June 25, 2020, the number of newly reported cases decreased. The decrease is also associated with the increase of recovered cases in the country. I thank God for this good news. It means that the efforts of the Kuwait government and compliance of the people worked in reducing the daily reported cases.

Timeline of Cases from June 25, 2020 to June 29, 2020

Decisions of Kuwait Cabinet for Second Phase

As Kuwait continues its fight against COVID-19 disease, the Kuwait cabinet announced on June 25, 2020, the scheduled date of the second phase of normalcy. It will begin on June 20, 202, with shortened curfew hours from 8:00 pm until 5:00 am of its local time.

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Kuwait’s Fight Against the COVID-19 Pandemic

On the cabinet’s meeting, the Government Spokesperson Tareq Al-Mezrem affirmed that the Kuwait government made decisions for the implemented second phase of Kuwait’s plan to normalcy. It includes the appointment of Health Minister Dr. Basel Al-Sabah to continue their assessment of the coronavirus situation in Mahboula, Farwaniya, and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh. Their assessment report will soon be discussed in the cabinet.

 Regarding the government and ministerial entities’ services, the Kuwait government will permit the resumption of the work of the government and public employees. However, under the decisions of the cabinet in its overall plan to normalcy, the offices will allow only 30% of its staff.

 Spokesperson Al-Mezrem further said about the formation of the central committee, chaired by the Health Minister and several fellow officials. Their main task is to follow up with the implemented health measures to curb the transmission of coronavirus disease. They have a responsibility to hold entities who fail to comply with the anti-COVID precautionary regulations.

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Aside from it, concerned bodies were assigned to ensure the recovery of the economy during the implementation of the five-phase plan. Their tasks include assisting the country’s private sector for the revitalization of the work market.

 With these new decisions, Spokesperson Al-Mezrem appealed to the citizens and residents for their continuous compliance with the imposed health regulations in society. 

To know further details about the plans for the second phase, click here.

The Success of Normalcy’s Plan

After the announcement of the government’s decisions, Health Minister Sheikh Dr. Basel Al-Sabah said that the success of Kuwait’s plan to normalcy fall into the hands of its citizens and residents. The compliance of all is the primary foundation of the freedom that we can reap once the outbreak has stopped.

 Since the start of the pandemic, Kuwait significantly improved its position in curbing coronavirus spread. The government handled the critical situation, especially during the Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr, where 85% of all hospitals were loaded with coronavirus patients. Because of the implemented lockdown, the percentage of load in ICU decreased to 40 percent while the hospitals nationwide reduced to 30 percent.

 The second phase will administer the resumption of the government workforce by 30 percent. It will also facilitate the reopening of selected establishments such as commercial complexes, malls, and parks from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm.

 In the third phase, Health Minister Al-Sabah affirmed that restrictions would lessen to support the return of normal life in the country. However, the overall responsibility of the citizens and residents against COVID-19 disease becomes heavier. It is crucial to approach the situation with cautious optimism.

Despite the gradual easing of the restrictions, Health Minister Al-Sabah warned the people not to be complacent about the precautionary health measures and be responsible as the country shifted to the following phases. Vigilance to the transmission of the coronavirus must remain.

Food Assistance by the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society

 Jahra, one of the isolated areas in the country, received more blessings as food distributions from the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society (KRCS) rushed in. The KRCS successfully distributed about 1,500 milk cartons and 1,500 food parcels. The workers, citizens, and residents happily accepted the relief goods. 

Food Distribution of Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society in Al-Jahra

While the process of distribution is conducted, KRCS Director of Disaster and Emergency Management Yossef Al-Maraj mentioned about the intensifying efforts of the society in providing humanitarian assistance to all families and workers in need. It is their humanitarian response, especially to the ones affected by the lockdown protocols in the isolated areas implemented by the health authorities.

 The people of Jahra Governorate were blessed with this distribution enough for their consumption in a full month. The food basket contains flour, rice, oil, dates, tea, sugar, beans, milk, and pasta. Director Al-Maraj said the organization’s primary purpose is to limit the movement of the citizens and residents. Therefore, it is in line with the imposed health measures in curbing the coronavirus disease spread.

Delivery of Food Aid by the KRCS in Al-Jahra

He further explained that it is the society’s national duty to distribute food baskets, meals, and milk for the community. To overcome the health crisis that we are facing, the KRCS will work hard to support the state institutions and the concerned authorities in confronting the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 I will express my immense gratitude to the KRCS for their unceasing food distribution in the community. They helped many people in different regions, ensuring that their food baskets can last up to one month. As the lockdown measures in other areas continue, food and financial assistance are what we need from another. 

Civil Service Commission’s Statement on Resumption of Work

 As the resumption of work is planned on June 30, 2020, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) announced employees’ return at only 30 percent of the total maximum workforce. However, this rule exempts the Ministry of Health for its full operations is vital to confront the pandemic. 

 To ensure the employees’ safety, the government departments are tasked to conduct regular disinfection and implement the health authorities’ directions. The movement of the workers will be limited in the offices and departments. It includes the appropriate maximum number of people in the elevators to ensure physical distancing. 

Inside the government buildings, its restaurants will not provide any services with the imposition of ban on all gatherings. Employees are advised to be apart by two meters.

 It is good news for all the citizens and residents who are patiently waiting for their jobs. The beginning of the second phase will give the people a chance to restart their financial capacity as they gradually receive their daily income. In this time, we need to support each other, both emotionally and physically. 

Incredible Feats of the Ministry of Defense

 Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Defense Ministry’s personnel strived immediately in putting the support of the military and civil services to the country’s efforts in controlling it. In the given report by the Moral Guidance and Public Relations Department, the Ministry affirmed the unceasing duty of its cadres. In case the term “cadres” is new to you, it is a group of key officers tasked to enlist and train the new military unit. These cadres implemented the cabinet’s resolutions with the imposed health measures in facing the coronavirus that terrorized the world.

 According to the head of medical services authority, Sheikh Dr. Abdullah Meshaal Al-Sabah, the authorities utilized all the available resources efforts to end the coronavirus pandemic. It is through the directions of the Defense Minister Sheikh Ahmad Mansour Al-Sabah. The Ministry played its crucial role in backing up the Health Ministry as it assisted other sectors and ministries in this crisis.  Looking at the Ministry’s hard-working performance, Sheikh Dr. Abdullah expressed his gratitude to all its staff’s comprehensive efforts. Working diligently around the clock is not an easy task as they religiously care about coronavirus patients.

The Field Hospital’s Observation Wards in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh
  • The Assistant Commander of the Defense Ministry Quarantine camp in the Subhan region noted the close coordination of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health, establishing the 1,000-bed facility and equipping it with the necessary supplies.
  • The Commander of the Military Quarantine in Al-Jahraa, Colonel Humoud Al-Enezi, said that the Defense Ministry’s Engineering Department successfully transformed three buildings into quarantine facilities. It is a 150-bed capacity prepared to serve more patients in the country.
  • The quarantine in Al-Julaiaa, Col. Saud Al-Sayegh, stated the regular coordination of the quarantine’s staff with their peers from the Health Ministry. It significantly helped the health department in easing its burden of the crisis.
  • The Commander of the Medical Services Quarantine, Col. Musaed Bujarwa, affirmed that the built facility consists of 595 beds. Together with it is the highly experienced medical team dedicated to examining coronavirus patients daily.
  • The In-charge of the Medical Team at the Medical Services Quarantine, Col. Mohammad Al-Mumen, emphasized that a specialized clinic is included in the which will specifically treat critical cases. It is also equipped with a pharmacy with a place for the patient’s wards.
  • According to the Head of the Medical Engineering Unit at the Medical Services Authority, Lieutenant Col. Abdullah Al-Mutawaa, his department led the provision of the quarantine facilities affiliated to the Armed Forces. It aims to provide logistics and the necessary upgrades of the technical system in the Jaber Al-Ahmad Hospital and the quarantines associated with it.

The efforts of the Defense Ministry are awe-inspiring as they completely supported the quarantine facilities and equipped it with the international specifications. They have not only assisted the health department in catering COVID-19 patients. They also assured the people that infected patients will receive appropriate medical treatment because of the available established quarantine facilities. 

Witnessing their hard work, I commend all their actions and support for the health department. God has crucially guided them in their way for the good of all. 

Examining the Shadow of the Pandemic

 On June 29, 2020, the Kuwait Cabinet conducted its weekly session to discuss the country’s health conditions under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chaired by His Highness, the prime minister, Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, assessed the situation in the isolated districts and regions of the country. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah

 According to the Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, Anas Al-Saleh, the reported presented by the Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health Affairs Dr. Buthaina Al-Mudhaf was examined. It entails the current conditions of Al-Farwaniya, Al-Mahbpula, and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh regions. 

 In respect to its populace density and living conditions, Assistant Undersecretary Dr. Buthaina noted that its status caused the rapid spread of the virus with the continuous risk of transmission to other areas. She conscientiously presented the results of the isolated protocols in the three regions. It included different proposals for preserving the health of its residents and its health system and ensuring the correct implementations for stable health conditions. All these proposals are guaranteed not to contradict the country’s five-phase plan to restore normal life.

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Efforts of the Kuwait Authorities

Basing on the report, the Kuwait Cabinet assigned a task to the Ministerial Coronavirus Emergency Committee to further assess the situations of these regions, the outcomes of the isolation protocols, and the considerations to boost its economy in the contemporary living and social conditions of the community. The expected assessment will be discussed soon in the following Cabinet Session this Thursday of July 2, 2020.

 The COVID-19 outbreak caused the suspension of operations in the Kuwait International Airport. However, a three-phase plan is established by the President of the Directorate-General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) Sheikh Salman Al-Sabah. Its reopening is scheduled to begin on August 1, 2020. The Kuwait Cabinet tasked the DGCA to equip the airport with the requisite criteria to protect the public. 

Minister Anas Al-Saleh noted that the Kuwait government appointed the Public Authority for Disabled Affairs to re-operate its services for people with disabilities. It will also include rehabilitation services for mentally disabled students.

 God always has a perfect time in every decision and event we take. The Kuwait government is still cautious in easing the restrictions of their implemented measures. Assessments of the coronavirus situation in all regions were conducted to ensure the safety of each and everyone as we begin on the second phase. 

The COVID-19 Situation of the Country

As the coronavirus disease strikes Kuwait, all medical personnel and authorities worked day and night to provide medical services. With their dedication to saving multiple lives, they sacrificed themselves facing high risks as they take care of the coronavirus patients. The video below shows the situation of our healthcare workers in the Farwaniya hospital.

Equipped with their lab coats, face shields, masks, and gloves, they save the infected patients’ lives. Every minute in their clock is golden as they put their efforts into their medical treatment. At the same time, the Ministry of Health conducted field surveys and tests in different governorates. It aims to ensure that the implemented health measures remain effective in curbing the transmission of COVID-19. 

Field Surveys and Tests in the Capital Governorate

As the malls are reopened on June 30, 2020, the Kuwait authorities placed all their efforts in implementing the health measures within the establishments. Different posted videos showing the preparation of malls such as the Marina, Al Kout, and Gate Mall put me at ease. It presents the extensive countermeasures and maintenance they imposed to ensure the safety of the customers and the employees.

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 We can expect that many customers will flock in these malls since it has long been suspended due to the imposed lockdown. I encourage everyone who plans to visits these establishments to remain vigilant in these public areas. It is because of their families’ safety and other people lies within their hands and their level of compliance. 

During the Friday prayers, our Muslim brothers also followed the precautionary health guidelines in the Makkah mosques. Sanitation points were prepared, and physical distancing was practiced during their prayers. 

Friday Prayers in Makkah Mosques

On the other hand, more medical supplies arrived in Kuwait from the country of Taiwan. I thank the latter for their generosity and assistance in Kuwait’s fight against the COVID-19 disease. They have coordinated well with the Kuwait government leading to good relations between both countries.

Medical Supplies from Taiwan

Today is the 30th day, and the last day of the government’s implemented the first phase. Tomorrow will be the beginning of the second phase. In this time, we have learned that compliance of all is our main weapon against the COVID-19 disease as long as its vaccine still does not exists. With all the implemented health measures provided by the government, all that is left is following them. It lies within our hands, putting a huge responsibility on every one of us. Therefore, we must commit and discipline ourselves in helping the country begin its second phase. Sooner, we can return to the normal lives that we all hoped for. 

Public Advisory of Philippine Embassy on June 24, 2020

 The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait released another public advisory about the possible repatriation of OFWs in Kuwait. Issued on June 24, 2020, the Embassy requests the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the country to participate in an online survey for their repatriation. You can access the link through here. https://bit.ly/KuwaitPESurveyRepat

 Rest assured, the accumulated responses will remain confidential. The Embassy advised the survey participants to wait for its notifications through a mobile phone message or call. The established link accepted responses until Thursday of June 25, 2020. 

Public Advisory of Philippine Embassy in Kuwait on June 24, 2020
Passport Application and Renewal of Philippine Embassy in Kuwait During the New Normal

Repatriation of OFWs in Kuwait

 God has blessed us greatly as more than 300 of our fellow OFWs in Kuwait were repatriated. The Philippine Embassy of Kuwait led the repatriation with Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. And Consul General Mohd. Noordin Pendosina N. Lomondot. The Embassy and the POLO-OWWA official coordinated closely to send off these repatriates. Because the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued a flight clearance, the repatriation flights became successful. 

Repatriation of More Than 300 OFWs in Kuwait

God significantly blessed the triumphant return of our Kabayans. Even with the ongoing health crisis, the concerned authorities allowed their safe repatriation to give them a chance to be reunited with their families. Broad smiles marked on their faces as they hold onto their respective roller bags. Knowing that they can reach home soon, they are grateful to both Kuwait and the Philippine government’s works and efforts.

 As we work our way on the elimination of the COVID-19 pandemic, let us be reminded that God always has His magical way of doing things. Even if sometimes we do not understand His works, let us remain strong within our faith. We should coordinate and support each other in these times of trial. As humankind, we are tasked to establish teamwork and unity in every crisis we face.

Nagagalak akong sumunod sa inyong mga katuruan,higit pa sa kagalakang dulot ng mga kayamanan.

Salmo 119:14 (ASND)14

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