CORONAVIRUS DIARIES: Week #16 – Initiating the Second Phase Plan in Unison With One and All

CORONAVIRUS DIARIES: Week #16 – Initiating the Second Phase Plan in Unison With One and All

July 06, 2020

“The best teamwork comes from men who are working independently toward one goal in unison.”

James Cash Penney

Every problem is solved through unity and discipline. As the whole world continues its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, every country and their respective private and public organizations shared their efforts in lifting each other. The State of Kuwait began its first week of the second phase plan. Significant changes happened within the nation as their economy started to rise.

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health reported 703 new COVID-19 cases with five additional deaths and 538 recoveries. It brings to a total record of 50,644 cases with 373 fatalities and 41,001 recovered cases. Within the new cases, 463 are Kuwait citizens and 240 residents from various nationalities. In the governorates, there are 209 cases in Al Ahmadi, 180 in Al Jahra, 131 in Al Farwaniya, 115 in Hawally, and 68 in the Capital. Among the residential areas, Saad Al Abdullah is the highest with 40 cases.

Update of COVID-19 Cases in Kuwait on July 6, 2020

 Looking at the chart of COVID-19 cases below, we have seen a high number of reported cases on July 02, 2020. However, from that date, it continued to decrease. 

Chart of COVID-19 Cases from June 30, 2020 to July 06, 2020

Kuwait’s Generosity to Other Nations

Donation to the Global’s Fight Against COVID-19

            On Tuesday of June 30, 2020, the second phase of the government’s five-phase plan began with a high emphasis on cooperation against the COVID-19 disease. Kuwait’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) and International Organizations, Ambassador Jamal Al-Ghunaim, affirmed Kuwait’s inspiring contributions in stopping the pandemic on a worldwide basis. Since its first outbreak, the State of Kuwait offered USD 60 million for its significant support in the World Health Organization (WHO).

 However, it does not only stop there. Lately, the country donated another USD 40 million to guarantee the progression of the international efforts in curbing COVID-19 transmission. It will also contribute to reducing the adverse effects it has on the people and the economy of different countries. 

 Ambassador Al-Ghunaim said that the country is currently assisting the development projects in various countries around the globe. Looking at its records, the nation supported 106 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Caribbean. Many projects were implemented in the vital human rights-related sectors.

Humanitarian Aid to the Middle East Countries

The COVID-19 disease affected not only Kuwait but also to many countries around the world. Despite the continuous country’s fight against it, they never failed to look back and help other countries struggling in their own coronavirus situation. The State of Kuwait has its significant share of humanitarian aid to the countries of the Middle East Region, especially to the Syrians. The two United Nations (UN) officials lauded the country’s inspiring efforts in helping its neighboring areas.

According to the UN Secretary General’s Representative and Resident Coordinator to Kuwait, Tareq Al-Sheikh, the international community has great concern about the impact of the virus to the people in all aspects worldwide. Especially in conflict areas such as Syria, it is very complicated to face the COVID-19 health crisis while facing war threats, which continued for nearly a decade.

 As a Humanitarian Center, Kuwait’s nation became an excellent example in responding to urgent relief to the citizens and residents in Syria and other areas globally. Therefore, he immensely expressed his gratitude for Kuwait’s support to the cause and refugees of Kuwait. 

The country also participated in the Fourth Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region. The UN and the European Union co-hosted it. With the contributions of 60 governments and NGOs, they were able to gather USD 7.7 billion as humanitarian aid. UN Secretary Al-Sheikh also thanked the country for its participation in this compassionate event.

Like any other country, the repercussions of the health measures against COVID-19 affected the agricultural sector and market of Syria. It resulted in the inflation of its market products. However, they managed to address it due to Kuwait’s generous contribution. Since last August of 2019, the country of Kuwait has been assisting the country of Syria.

I am very impressed with the large charity and generosity of the State of Kuwait towards other countries worldwide. They are prepared to assist the needs of different regions in hopes of lifting their grave situation brought by the COVID-19 disease. The country is indeed a role model in helping other people’s lives.

New Online Appointment of Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI)

On July 1, 2020, the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) will reopen its premises to the public on Sunday of July 5, 2020. They will begin its services from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. However, for the collection of new civil IDs, they will end at 5:00 pm.

The PACI reminds the visitors that they still need to book an appointment through the PACI Website. However, it will only be available every Saturday, where they will accept a specified number of visitors to avoid overcrowding within the premises. The reopening comes with the implementation of precautionary guidelines to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. It will ensure that the health measures are thoroughly followed as a part of the ongoing second phase of the government’s return to normalcy.

To guide you further about the online appointment of the PACI, click here. https://www.diarynigracia.com/five-important-steps-to-book-an-appointment-in-the-public-authority-for-civil-information-paci/        

Significance of Social Media Information in this Crisis

 As the health crisis carried on, the significant role of the Kuwait government, media, and every individual in protecting the whole community from any false or misleading information is emphasized by the media professionals. The Kuwait Media Association organized an interactive digital discussion using the online platform of ZOOM. They talked about the potential dangers of rumors and the importance of professional news responsibilities and its credibility in social media.

According to Professor of Modern Communication and media at Kuwait University, Dr. Bashayer Al-Sanei, the community has to depend on its reliable sources. The widespread use of social media and the easy accessibility of everyone makes it difficult to find credible sources. Dr. Al-Sanei stressed the importance of qualifying media cadres in controlling the flow of information through all kinds of media.  In this way, they can activate the necessary tools for quality control and include lessons of media awareness in the school curriculum.

For the Chairman of Kuwait Union of Electronic Media, Faisal Al-Sawagh, he affirmed that it is the responsibility of the media officials and the public to deal with the massive surge of information. He advised everyone to rely on official media sources. Therefore, civil society organizations and government institutions should fight against the spread of misinformation and rumors.

 Other people such as American author and Media Expert Margret Sullivan, Ahmad Al-Fahad, Kuwaiti writer and journalist Ahmad Al-Fahad, and KUNA’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief also supported the critical role of every sectors and individual in delivering accurate news in this COVID-19 health crisis.

 All the statements of these prominent people about the role of delivering accurate information is correct. Social media has played a massive part in educating and raising awareness towards the citizens and residents. The perspective of the whole community is shaped by it. The spread of fake news has no place in this word. It will bring no good but anxiety and panic in the society. Therefore, its reliability and credibility are crucial in giving truthful news and details worldwide. 

Lifting of Isolation Protocols Discussed in Kuwait’s Cabinet Weekly Meeting

 On Thursday of July 02, 2020, the Kuwait Cabinet conducted its meeting. They directed the Interior Ministry to lift the full isolation protocols in Mahboula and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh areas next Thursday of July 09, 2020. It will be lifted starting at 5:00 am on the scheduled date.

Since April 06, 2020, the Kuwait government implemented isolation protocols because the two regions are densely populated and dominated by expatriates. Therefore, they considered it to be one of the emerging hotspots of coronavirus transmission.

 Chaired by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, the Cabinet instructed the Ministry of Finance to allot a budget of KD 75 million or USD 243.8 million for the preparation of purchasing the vaccines. It will be given to the Ministry of Health according to the Deputy Premier, Interior Minister, and Minister of State for Cabinet Anas Al-Saleh.

 They continue to strengthen their support for the Kuwait employees in the private sectors. Hence, they decided to increase the allotted budget by KD 240.4 million or USD 781.7 million to the Public Authority for Manpower. It aims to improve the negative impacts caused by the lockdown measures in the country.

The news of lifting the isolation protocols brings joy to the residents within Mahboula and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh. They can return to their work soon and regain their financial capabilities.

His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah

The Call for Coordination of Regional and International Organizations

Teamwork is an element towards success. In our battle against COVID-19 disease, the State of Kuwait emphasized the significance of coordination and cooperation through the international multilateral system, and the regional and international organizations. Kuwait’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi, remarked this during a conducted discussion about the pandemic. 

According to him, the outbreak of the virus resulted in unprecedented circumstances that many individuals are experiencing. It posed a transboundary threat as it swayed all aspects of everyone’s lives. It includes the economic, social, health, and political aspects. Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic infected 10 million more people and caused the death of half a million people.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations described the pandemic events and effects as the most significant challenge since the devastating episode of the Second World War. It became a living example of the close links between security and pandemic.

Therefore, he urged everyone to conjoin their efforts to confront any global health crisis as we did our best to limit its consequences. Lastly, he said that “A global crisis like this requires global solutions.”

Ambassador Al-Otaibi affirmed that a global ceasefire is implemented in areas experiencing armed conflicts. They imposed it to focus on the real battle as we face the threats of the coronavirus pandemic. Initiatives were done to mobilize international efforts in reducing its transmission and its effects on the community. However, he stressed that more things could be done in this regard.

The pandemic’s economic and social effects can possibly reverse the achievements and development gains of many countries. Consequently, it will worsen unemployment, inequality, poverty, and competition for natural resources.  Repercussions at the political level may be inevitable as it tested every country’s efficiency in responding to the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Kuwait’s Cooperation Agreement with Pakistan

On July 04, 2020, the Kuwait Ministry of Health signed a cooperation agreement with the Health Ministry in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to combat the threat brought by the coronavirus. According to the Director of the International Health Relations Department, Dr. Rehab Al-Watyan, the signed agreement seeks to enhance both nations’ coordination as they share their respective information and experiences in addressing the pandemic.

Signing of Health Cooperation Agreement between Kuwait and Pakistan

She further added that the event happened at the headquarters of Kuwait’s Health Ministry. Undersecretary Dr. Mustafa Reza represented Kuwait while Ambassador of Pakistan in Kuwait Syed Sajjad Haider represented stand for Pakistan’s Ministry of Health.

Both Parties Holding the Cooperation Agreement

Putting an End to the Residency Dealers

In terms of residence law, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of interior and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, Anas Al-Saleh, reiterated the ending of residency dealers file, which will be removed from Kuwait. As of now, the Ministry recorded 282 cases of residency dealers in 417 various companies. It includes more than 526 people, with 49 citizens detained by the Kuwait authorities. 

As a response to this record, the General Department of Investigations and Public Prosecution investigated the individuals who will hold accountable for the incident. The legislative authority proposed to increase the charged penalties to the residency dealers. Minister Al-Saleh expressed his gratitude for the proposals.

 He further affirmed that they prepared a government draft law for the comprehensive development of the residence law. It aims to increase the penalties and develop the residency system as they benefited from other countries’ experiences. In two weeks, they will deliver it to the National Assembly.

Last April, the Kuwait government granted the residency violators the “Leave Safely” program. According to Minister Al-Saleh, the idea started last January before the outbreak of the country’s pandemic. A total of 39 schools are also equipped to shelter the violators until they complete the necessary procedures. After that, they can leave the country.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Kuwait government was forced to implement lockdown measures and isolation protocols while many violators remain in the community. For the record, the shelters have 26,000 people. Five-hundred people officially left on July 05, 2020, leaving 200 violators in the country. Additionally, Minister Al-Saleh thanked the great efforts of the Ministry of interior and the Public Authority for taking care of this matter. 

Kuwait’s Red Crescent Society’s Support to the COVID-19 Battle

 The unison of private and public organizations with the government is crucial in the country’s battle against coronavirus. It is of great news that the Chairman of the Kuwait Red Crescent Society, Dr. Hilal Al-Sayer, affirmed their commitment to supporting the efforts of the State and Civil in reducing the virus’ transmission.

 The Assistant Undersecretary for Social Affairs at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Musallam Al-Subaie, delivered 45,500 protective masks to the Kuwait Social Care Homes Complex. It was generously donated by the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT).

  Moreover, Dr. Al-Sayer expressed his concern for the occupants in the care houses. It includes especially those people with special challenges and elderly individuals. He said that the KRCS responded to their needs by providing medical utensils to many State Institutions. Currently, Kuwait’s emergency situation authorized the collaborated efforts of many private and official institutions in securing the necessary resources against the pandemic. 

According to Undersecretary Al-Subaie, the complex management implemented the required protective measures in facing the pandemic as they protect the health safety of the occupants and its serving staff.

The Weekly Session of Kuwait’s Inspiring Leaders

 As part of the government’s precautionary measures, Kuwait’s Cabinet conducted their weekly session through online means. The meeting is chaired by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.

 As they begin their meeting, His Highness, the prime minister, welcomed the President, Vice President, and the Board Members of the Anti-Corruption Public Authority as they assumed their new positions. His Highness the Amir’s lofty directives will serve as a guideline for the Kuwait government to ensure the preservation of public money. With the cooperation of the Anti-Corruption Public Authority, the authorities can achieve their desired goals. 

 In terms of the ongoing health crisis, the Minister of Health, Sheikh Dr. Basil Humoud Al-Sabah, discussed the recent developments of the country’s health situation. It also includes the imposed health measures to curb its further spread with the second-phase plan’s continuous implementation.

A Breath of Fewer Restrictions at the Beginning of Second Phase 

Beginning of Second Phase in Kuwait
Traffic in Kuwait Avenues on July 03, 2020

 After days of preparation and sterilization in the malls, the second phase opened these selling establishments to the community. However, precautionary health measures are strictly imposed while visiting in these public areas.

As different customers flocked the malls, its employees and workers gave them a heart-warming welcome. It is of great joy that the malls are operational back again, for it will also resume the lost jobs of many workers. Many citizens and residents got their work back even if these establishments only limit its staff to 30% of its capacity. It is way better than the lockdown measures where no job is available.

Welcoming the Reopening of Shopping Malls
The Reopening of the Avenues Mall

Together with the reopening of the malls, the Shaeed Park will be available from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm. Precautionary measures are applied to its visitors. The operations of the restaurants and cafes will begin to allow dine-out and home deliveries from 6:00 am to 7:30 pm while dine-in is still prohibited. For the distributed of renewed driving licenses, the Ministry of Interior announced that they would cater citizens and expatriates at the Sports Club Building of the Al-Nasr Club. It is located in Ardiya of Block Four.  They will be open from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.

Many mobile shops resumed their operations. After the lockdown measures, many people would have realized the importance of owning mobile phones for their daily use. The emergence of the outbreak pushed the community to go online rather than interact physically with other people.

The Reopening of Mobile Shops

Despite the ebullient reopening of the malls, other stores will possibly increase their product’s prices. It is crucial to follow the recommended rate of the sold products to prevent any legal charges form the authorities. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) immediately responded to this possibility as they monitor the prices within the shopping malls.

Inspection of Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Shopping Malls
MOCI Team Monitoring the Prices of Shopping Malls
Inspection of MOCI Team in Souq Sharq
Inspection of MOCI Team in Egaila and Fahaheel

In the Al-Muhallab mall, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry closed a clothes store due to fake price hikes. In Hawally, the MOCI team closed another grocery because it sold subsidized food. It is an excellent move of the authorities to maintain the monitoring of prices within the malls. If it is not done, the possibility of these stores increasing their product’s prices is high because of its economic fall down during the lockdown measures.

Closure of Clothes Store in Muhallab Mall
Closure of Clothes Store in Muhallab Mall

Our Muslim brothers conducted their weekly Friday prayers. They strictly followed all implemented health measures as they practiced social distancing within the mosques. On July 06. 2020, the Kuwait Cabinet decided to reopen the mosques for Friday prayers. It will begin on July 17, 2020 as all precautions are prepared and applied during the ceremony. I appreciate the implemented precautions of the authorities in ensuring the safety of the worshippers.

The Situation in Friday Prayers
Preparation for Reopening of Mosques for Friday Prayers

 Despite the easing of restrictions, several regions are still under isolation protocols. The citizens and residents in the area still struggle with unemployment and financial and food crises. However, the Kuwait government continues to back up their needs. The authorities distributed food in Farwaniya on July 04, 2020 and in Mahboula on July 05, 2020.

Aside from these food distributions, the Health Ministry continues to test more people for the COVID-19 disease. On July 04, 2020, they tested the General Administration for Special Security Forces. It is of great relief that the authorities ensured the health safety of our security frontliners. They have served well in maintaining peace and order while assisting the implementation of health measures within the regions.

Coronavirus Testing at General Administration for Special Security Forces

To prevent further spread of the virus, cleanliness is crucial. Therefore, the authorities conducted clean-up operations to raise the importance of cleanliness within the public areas and our homes. The concerned personnel picked up all the garbage near the beaches, on the streets, and in the parks.

Clean Up Operations in Kuwait

On July 05, 2020, the environmental police also initiated a campaign on the beaches. It aims to raise the awareness of the individuals visiting in the area the compliance of health measures. Even though the beaches are currently open for the public, the threat of coronavirus disease still exists. Therefore, vigilance is vital in these public areas.

Campaign of Environmental Police in the Beaches

Today marks the 7th day of the implementation of the government’s second phase plan. The nation’s economy begins to repair itself more as work has resumed in many areas. Even with the imposed limit on its staff, it brought hope to all citizens and residents that the country is on its way to normalcy.

 God always has a plan for us at a perfect time. The start of the second phase indicates that our pandemic days will soon be over. The Kuwait government has everything under control as they facilitated Kuwait’s fight against COVID-19 disease. At this moment, everyone strengthens their hopes and confidence in our upcoming victory.

New Public Advisory of Philippine Embassy in Kuwait

 In Kuwait, the Philippine Embassy released another public advisory on July 01, 2020, about the reopening of the Online Survey for the Repatriation of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). The implemented lockdown measures resulted in many displaced OFWs in the country. The following applicants can access the online survey through this given link. https://bit.ly/KuwaitPESurveyRepat.

In this current survey, no deadline is established for the submission of its requests. Nevertheless, about more than 1,000 responses received from June 24-June 25 of 2020 will be prioritized. Those who already participated in the survey on the given dates are discouraged from participating again.

The Embassy stringently implemented physical distancing measures within its premises. Therefore, they discouraged Filipino individuals from visiting the office for inquiry and requests about the repatriation. The established online survey is the Embassy’s alternative to receiving the requests of the Filipinos in Kuwait.

Successful Repatriation of the OFWs

 The conducted online survey bears its fruits as 314 OFWs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, more than 3,000 OFWs were successfully repatriated from March of 2020. The current chartered flight became a success because of the issuance of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) through flight clearance. The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines endorsed the repatriation program. 

I welcome our fellow Kabayans in their triumphant return to their homes. It is reassuring for other displaced OFWs that the repatriation is ongoing. Soon, all displaced Filipino workers will be united with their families and friends in the Philippines. 

Repatriation of 314 OFWs in Kuwait

Suspension of On-site Services in the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait

 Unfortunately, the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait sadly informed the public about the suspension of their on-site services, which will begin on July 02, 2020. It is because one of the Embassy’s employees tested positive of the COVID-19 disease. Under the protocols implemented by the Kuwait Health Ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO), the people who contacted the infected patient are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine. Therefore, they will suspend their services until July 16, 2020. 

 The suspension includes the on-site operations of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLA-OWWA). For those individuals with scheduled appointments within the suspension date, the Embassy advised them to wait for any notification from them. Preferably, they will contact them through WhatsApp to officially reschedule their appointments.

 It is very disheartening to know that one of the Filipino workers in the Philippine Embassy contracted the coronavirus. I pray for our Kabayan’s steadfast recovery and the safety of other employees as they undergo quarantine protocols. It should serve as a reminder for all of us to be vigilant and cautious in all health measures to avoid further transmission of the coronavirus disease. 

 “Alalahanin mo palagi ang bilin ko sa iyo: Magpakatatag ka at magpakatapang. Huwag kang matakot o kayaʼy manghina, dahil ako, ang Panginoon na iyong Dios, ay sasaiyo kahit saan ka pumaroon.”

JOSUE 1:9 (ASND)

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