CORONAVIRUS DIARIES: Week #18 – Multiple Resumption During the Conclusion of the Second Phase

CORONAVIRUS DIARIES: Week #18 – Multiple Resumption During the Conclusion of the Second Phase

July 20, 2020

“The acknowledgment of our weakness is the first step in repairing our loss.”

Thomas Kempis

 The State of Kuwait is on its way in restoring its overall situation to normality. During the implemented second phase, different departments and establishments have resumed their services and operations to support the gradual reparation of the nation’s economy. Within the third week, the Kuwait government has done a great job handling the transmission of COVID-19 pandemic.

 In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health reported 559 new coronavirus cases with 652 recoveries and no additional deaths. Within the new cases, 337 are Kuwait citizens, while 222 are residents of various nationalities. In the governorates, there are 144 in Farwaniya, 130 in Ahmadi, 164 in Jahra, 75 in Hawally, and 45 in the Capital. Currently, 9,016 COVID-19 patients are receiving medical treatment, in which 138 of them are serious cases. It is excellent news for all of us that no deaths are registered today.

Update of COVID-19 Cases in Kuwait on July 20, 2020

As we look at the chart of coronavirus cases from July 13, 2020, to July 20, 2020, the number of newly reported cases goes down from July 16, 2020. The blue line represents it. A high record of recoveries was documented on July 17, 2020, represented by the green line. Let us continue our prayers for more recoveries and lesser reported deaths daily.

Timeline of Cases from July 13, 2020 to July 20, 2020

Kuwait Red Crescent Society’s Launching of Donation Campaign

 Since the start of the outbreak, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) exerted their efforts on humanitarian aid both locally in Kuwait and globally. On July 14, 2020, the society officially launched a donation campaign where families are distributed with meat within the country during the Eid Al-Adha. The occasion is expected to reach its end in July.

According to Society’s General Maha Al-Barjas, this campaign is of the great importance of KRCS as they seek to bring utmost joy to the needy families in the Eid Al-Adha holiday. She further added that all these humanitarian and philanthropic arts are established within the KRCS’s development program. It motivated the society to remain keen on assisting the community. 

 Other individual sponsors or companies are allowed to donate for the program. They can do it by visiting the KRCS’s website or its administrative headquarters in the Shuwaikh Area. A team from the society is tasked to supervise the slaughtering of the livestock before the conducted distribution.

KRCS’s Launching of Eid Al-Adha Meat Distribution Campaign

Distribution of Electrical Appliances by the Kuwait Red Crescent Society.

 Aside from the campaign, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society successfully distributed electrical appliances to the country’s needy families. According to the KRCS senior official Mariam Al-Adsani, the society delivered it to 66 families registered in their record. It includes refrigerators, air-conditioners, and other useful home appliances.

 During this COVID-19 pandemic, the KRCS seeks to ease the tension and pressure of these struggling families living in dire conditions. In the upcoming days, they will conduct more distribution of food and other essential commodities as the celebration of Eid Al-Adha gets closer. Lastly, senior official Al-Adsani expressed his gratitude to the assistance of all companies and groups involved in the donation and distribution of these electrical appliances. 

KRCS’s Distribution of Appliances
KRCS Volunteer Carrying Refrigerator

Distribution of Health Precautionary Items During the Friday Prayers

 During the Friday prayers on July 17, 2020, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society distributed sanitizers and masks to the worshippers in different governorates. The Directory of Public Relations and Information at KRCS Khaled Al-Zaid affirmed that they also distributed gloves and raised awareness to the worshippers about the virus’s symptoms and its preventive ways. 

He added that public and private institutions’ cooperation is required for the provision of supplies in countering the contagion. Looking at the situation inside the mosques, he praised their keenness in wearing facemasks and maintaining social distancing. Lastly, he expressed his gratitude to all state ministries, sectors, and various institutions to protect both citizens and residents.

Commending Kuwait’s Efforts in Cultivating its Youth

The State of Kuwait has been encouraging its youth for their pioneering role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It includes their responsibility in shaping the nation’s future. This action was lauded by the UN Secretary-General Representative Tarek Al-Sheikh on July 15, 2020. 

Marking the World Youth Skills Day, Kuwait’s youth had set an excellent example in responding to the outbreak and stemming its further spread. Due to the tough health conditions today, many schools, institutions, and colleges were suspended. Based on recent research, it is recorded that precautionary health measures such as lockdown have affected the education of about 70 percent of the youth worldwide.

Resumption of Academic Year 2019-2020 at Kuwait University

 During the implemented second phase, the Board of Directors of Kuwait University announced their decision to resume the academic year 2019-2020 on August 09, 2020, through online means. The school year was suspended since the beginning of the implemented quarantine.

 During their meeting led by Kuwait University Rector Dr. Fayez Al-Thafeiri, the directors reviewed the technical controls of online study. According to the Secretary-General of the University Dr. Muthanna Al-Refa’ie, the conference religiously discussed the following preparations for the next academic year: 2020-2021.

Additionally, the Assistant Rector of the University Dr. Mohammad Al-Thafeiri announced the reopening of the student library on Thursday of July 16, 2020. For the upcoming visitors, they need to book a seat online to enter the library. Health precautions against COVID-19 are implemented to prevent possible transmission. 

 On July 20, 2020, the Ministry of Health commends the approval of Kuwait University to the Doctor in Pharmacy (PharmD) program. It is approved due to the College of Pharmacy’s relentless endeavors in developing pharmacists and pharmacology.

According to the Health Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Medicine and Medical Supplies Dr. Abdullah Al-Bader, Pharm D is a professional certificate in pharmacology for the development of the profession of the pharmacists in the country. 

Conclusion and Plans for the Scholastic Year

 As education classes were suspended due to the coronavirus situation, the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Dr. Saud Al-Harbi, announced the conclusion of the academic year 2019-2020. The remaining part of the education curriculum will be integrated into the first chapter of the following academic year 2020-2021. It will virtually be effective on October 04, 2020, as the education curriculum is modified.

 The pre-school pupils and the students in elementary and intermediate levels are promoted to the higher classes. Students with no grades due to absence can enroll for the second round of examinations. 

 Students at the high school level can improve their grades by enrolling again in the scholastic year. For the students in class 12, the remaining period of their second semester will be conducted within six weeks. It will begin from August 09, 2020, until September 17, 2020. It will be done through electronic means.

 For the students at the university level, the remaining duration of their second semester will be continued from August 09, 2020, until October 06, 2020, while the summer semester will begin on October 11, 2020, until November 17, 2020. 

 The following academic year 2020-2021 will commence on November 29, 2020, until March 17, 2021. Then, the next virtual semester will start on March 28, 2020, until July 13, 2020. The summer semester will follow from August 1, 2020, until September 21, 2021. 

Meeting for the Resumption of Commercial Flights

Another meeting is held between the officials of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the Health Minister Dr. Basel Humoud Al-Sabah. Their session discussed their plans to reopen the commercial flights in the Kuwait International Airport this coming August. 

 The commission carefully examined the given guidelines for commercial flight resumption in light of the coronavirus situation. On the other hand, the committee briefed them about the conducted preparations from the recent days within the airport buildings and terminals. These necessary steps seek to pass the required precautions for the arrival of passengers and outgoing travelers. 

Virtual Session of the Kuwait Cabinet on July 16, 2020

The Kuwait Cabinet conducted their virtual meeting, chaired by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, on Thursday of July 16, 2020. They urged all expatriates and Kuwait citizens to adhere to the implemented precautions against the COVID-19 disease. According to the Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister, and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh, His Highness, the Amir expressed his satisfaction with the Kuwait government’s efforts in handling the country’s coronavirus situation.

 His Highness the Amir advised the government to put all resources at disposal to assist the citizens as they face the threat of COVID-19 disease. Particularly in the education sector, students must continue their education during the ongoing health crisis. 

 The Minister of Health Sheikh Dr. Basel Humoud Al-Sabah updated the ministers with the recent developments in both regional and international levels. It also includes the recorded statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), the local health status, and the record of cases according to nationalities and regions. 

 On the presented records, Minister Al-Sabah emphasized the stabilization of documented deaths and the mounting of recoveries. However, the coronavirus cases between Kuwait citizens remain high.

 The minister further reviewed the updates regarding treatment, precautions, and logistical services against the coronavirus disease and examined the presented recommendations of the ministerial emergency commission. 

 The ministers are informed about the efforts to increase the production of anti-coronavirus items and materials. It includes the security of its supplies through strategic stockpile. In the shadow of this health crisis, the Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait, Mohammad Al-Hashel, presented a report to the ministers about the national economic plan.

 Moreover, the Kuwait Cabinet awaits the opinions and suggestions of the health authorities before deciding to implement the next stage in the five-phase plan and the lifting of isolation in Farwaniya.

Friday Prayers At the Mosques

 On Friday of July 17, 2020, our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters felt great joy and relief as they performed their Friday prayers at the mosques. It is their first time since its suspension during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus. They were allowed after the Kuwait Cabinet authorized the resumption of Friday prayers in the mosques. However, they should strictly adhere to health precautions to prevent any virus transmission or infection.

Situation at the Mosques during Friday prayers

I commend the dedication of the worshippers in following the precautionary measures implemented within the mosques. In this way, they can strengthen their faith while preventing further spread of the virus.

Strategic Stock of Masks Available for Six Months

 While the coronavirus outbreak in Kuwait continues, the Kuwait Public Authority for Industry (PAI) carries on its strategic stock of protective masks that would last for six months. Announced on July 18, 2020, they reported that more than 5,000,000 masks produced from its eight factories and the local crafts. It is because 522 tons of raw materials are available within the industrial facilities, while there are 133 tons of it, which is imported. All of these are done to increase their production capacity.  

 During the initial outbreak, one factory for the manufacturing of masks is available. As improvement goes on, there are currently nine factories. PAI continues its support to the national factories through facilitating the approval process for the production of primary material for the production of masks. It will provide the necessary strategic stock for the citizens and residents of the country. 

 Establishing all these local factories were successful with the coordination of the Ministry of Health. The concerned authorities reassured that the product meets its specified requirements. In producing these precautionary health items, the industrial sector has a prominent role in its provision to assist the country in its battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 These precautionary supplies played a significant role in curbing the transmission of COVID-19. It is good that the Kuwait government applied a strategy to ensure that enough face masks are supplied to the nation. 

Updates of His Highness the Amir’s Health

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah conducted his medical checkup in a hospital on July 18, 2020. With God’s grace, His Highness the Amir is in good health, according to the Minister of the Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah. Minister Ali wishes the continuous prosperity and wellbeing of Kuwait’s inspiring leader. 

Within that day, His Highness the Amir received a call from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz. The Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also called His Highness the Amir. Both of them reassured the health of His Highness the Amir as they wished for his best wellbeing and safety.

 His Highness, the Amir, replied with deep gratitude to them with his sincere sentiments. These brotherly gestures represented the depth of the historical and solid relationship between the two leaders and their countries. 

Furthermore, His Highness the Crown Prince is assigned by the Amiri Order to take over some of the constitutional jurisdictions of His Highness the Amir. It will take effect temporarily. His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received phone calls from the Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi, President Barham Saleh of Iraq, Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, Bahraini King Hamad bin Issa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, President Recep Tayyip Edrogan of Turkey and Chairman of the Transitional Sovereign Council, Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces Gen. Abdelfattah Al-Burhan, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and other more about the health of His Highness the Amir.

 On the following morning of June 19, 2020, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah finished his successful surgery. Praying to Allah, he asked the Almighty for his fast recovery and wellbeing.

His Highness the Crown Prince congratulated His Highness the Amir for a successful surgery together with the citizens and residents of Kuwait. In return, His Highness the Amir thanked them with great appreciation.

 It is of great relief and happiness to me, knowing that His Highness the Amir is well fine. Everyone was worried about his health condition as he continues to inspire as a good leader of the nation. 

Extension of Artistic and Cultural Festivals of the National Council of Culture, Arts, and Letters (NCCAL)

 The ongoing COVID-19 health crisis is the primary reason the current year’s artistic and cultural festivals are conducted by the National Council of Culture, Arts, and Letters (NCCAL). According to Kuwait’s Information Minister Mohammad Al-Jabri, it will be moved to 2021. Similarly, he also postponed the 45th International Book Fair of Kuwait. Initially, it was scheduled for November. Due to the health circumstances, these activities are extended on a later date. 

 The decision of postponement is due to the damages and disruptions brought by the coronavirus disease within the development sectors and services. It includes art, culture, museums, and antiquities. Minister Al-Jabri implemented this decision for the safety and welfare of its visitors and the public under the security and health authorities’ directions. 

He described the decision as painful yet necessary. He felt sorry about the loss of direct connection to the audience of exhibitions, theaters, historic buildings, libraries, and museums. On the bright side, he lauded the NCCAL’s efforts to provide artistic and cultural activities through online means. The NCCAL considered establishing an online platform for the Kuwait International Book Fair before November ends.

Kuwait Cabinet’s Weekly Session on July 20, 2020

The Kuwaiti Cabinet conducted its weekly meeting today of July 20, 2020, led by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. As the meeting began, the Cabinet expressed its happiness for His Highness the Amir’s successful surgery and wished him a rapid recovery. 

On the briefing of the Foreign Minister Dr. Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabbah, the State of Kuwait welcomed the United Nations’ demand in treating its staff in the Central and West Asia that contracted the coronavirus infections. In Kuwait’s hospitals, the critical cases will be treated. The nation has experimented successfully on how to deal with coronavirus infections, which resulted in the reduction of the country’s mortality rate. The choice of UN signifies the confidence and efficiency of Kuwait’s Health System.

Health Minister Dr. Sheikh Bassel Humoud Al-Sabah reviewed to the Cabinet the latest updates of the coronavirus situation at local, regional, and international levels. The data is based on the given statistics of the report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The COVID-19 Situation in the Country

In the second phase, Farwaniya remains to be under total lockdown measures. The citizens and residents continue to struggle within the area due to the ongoing “No Work, No pay” situation. However, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society conducted food distribution within the place on July 13, 2020.  The distribution was facilitated by the security personnel to ensure that social distancing is followed. Hundreds of people received donated food baskets. 

Distribution of Food Baskets in Farwaniya

 I appreciate the humanitarian aid of the Kuwait Red Crescent Society. Life is still difficult within Farwaniya. However, the society gave the light of hope as food assistance continues within the area.

In the Mishref Field Hospital, the Kuwait Ministry of Health honored the workers in the establishment for their inspiring service amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as a cleaning personnel, they have done a great job maintaining the sanitation of the hospital.

Knowing that the coronavirus can infect easily through public items and places, their prominent role plays a big responsibility in mitigating its further spread within the healthcare settings. For that, I will also congratulate them on a job well done. 

Kuwait Health Ministry Honoring the Hospital Workers

 The Public Authority of Manpower issued Decision #367 of 2020, which will ban the transfer of workers within the government sector to the private sector. According to the General Director of the Public Authority of Manpower Ahmed Al-Mousa, the decision was implemented to increase control over the labor market. However, it will exclude the husbands and children of the Palestinian nationals, Kuwaiti women, and medical professionals who are authorized to work under the Ministry of Health. 

 Today marks the 21st day of the government’s implemented second phase plan. Within this week, mortality rates have decreased while the number of recoveries became stable. Our medical and security frontliners played a significant role in improving the health situation of the nation. Our mighty God has rightly guided us towards this point as the country heals from the health crisis. With this, we should continue to support each other while our dedicated frontliners and leaders fight the ongoing pandemic. 

Continuous Repatriation of Overseas Filipinos in Kuwait

 More Overseas Filipinos are being repatriated back home to ensure their safety amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait reported on July 15, 2020, that about more than 300 Overseas Filipinos are sent home through the Kuwait Airways chartered flight. It was granted clearance to arrive in Manila on July 16, 2020. 

As the humanitarian aid of Al-Tayer Travel and Tourism, anti-coronavirus kits were given to the Filipino passengers. It contained face shields, face masks, and hand sanitizers. 

After this successful repatriation, the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait is currently eyeing to bring more Filipinos home within this month. According to Philippine Charge d’ Affaires to Kuwait Charleson Hermosura, another flight clearance is being asked scheduled on Sunday of July 19, 2020. Consequently, they managed to fly another 300 Filipinos expected to arrive in Manila on July 20, 2020.

Filipinos in Kuwait Returning Home on July 20, 2020

Since March 25, 2020, the Embassy has repatriated around 4,000 Filipinos. The Kuwaiti government paid for these flights, including the amnesty flights last April.

 During the briefing, he stated that around 300 Filipinos in Kuwait contracted the coronavirus infection, in which 32 of them died. Within the fatalities are four healthcare workers. About 23,000 Filipinos in the country are displaced as they lost their jobs and struggled through the “No Work, No pay” situation due to the implemented lockdown measures. 

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

 The positive coronavirus case of a worker within the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait pushed its office to temporarily suspend its on-site services. After completing the quarantine period, the Embassy announced its reopening on July 19, 2020. Therefore, they advised the public, especially the Filipino community, to wear face masks as they visit its premises. The social distancing of about two meters or six feet is implemented. 

 On July 18, 2020, the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait released another advisory regarding its resumption of on-site services. The Embassy informs the public about the available on-site consular services that they will offer on its reopening. It is the following.

  For those who registered in the online appointment priority system on June 22-24, 2020,

  • Passport renewal, application, and validity extension

For those with appointment through the link http://kuwaitpe.setmore.com

  • Affidavits of support and consent
  • Parental travel permits
  • Notarization of affidavits and contracts
  • Certification of those applying for Dependent Visa
  • Authentication of diplomas, PSA/NSO documents, NBI clearance, transcripts of records and documents notarized in the Philippines
  • Civil Registration
  • Certification of Philippine Driver’s Licenses

For those applicants with no appointment,

  • Passport Releasing

The Embassy reiterated their reminders to its applicants. It includes the following:

  1. The individuals who applied for passport application or renewal must fill out in advance their passport application form. The form can be downloaded through the Embassy’s official website. You can access it through this link. https://bit.ly/KuwaitPEConsularServices. They must bring their passport application form and the copies of their Civil ID and current passport.
  2. The applicants must ensure that they bring the correct requirements. They can check the list of requirements through this link. https://bit.ly/KuwaitPEConsularServices.
  3. The exact amount needed for the application fee must be prepared beforehand. For the information about the fees, they can visit this link. https://bit.ly/KuwaitPEConsularServices.
  4. To beat the summer heat, refreshments must be brought upon visiting the Embassy’s office.

Setting up one’s online appointment is free of charge. Therefore, the Embassy reminds the public not to deal with scammers and fixers. If they are asked to pay for their appointment, they are greatly urged to file a complaint against that person so the Embassy can further investigate the case.

Walk-in applicants are only allowed for those who wish to claim their new passports. The Embassy also limit its operations under the directives of the Kuwait government during the implemented second phase of the country’s restoration to normality. The public must wait for further public advisories announced by the office for new updates on its Online Appointment System for passport renewals and applications. The innovative system will soon be opened as all passport processes on June 22-24, 2020 are completed. 

Public Advisory of Philippine Embassy in Kuwait

Reopening of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) Office in Kuwait

 Like the Philippine Embassy, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait will reopen its office on July 19, 2020, from 9:00 am until 2:00 in the afternoon. However, strict regulations are implemented to ensure every individual’s safety against the transmission of the COVID-19 disease. Here are the following rules of POLO Kuwait.

  1. The distribution of financial assistance under the DOLE-AKAP program will be conducted every day within the week, including Friday and Saturday. The approved applicants will receive a call from a POLO personnel to give them their designated schedule when they receive the monetary assistance.
  2. For the individuals with labor and welfare concerns, they can consult or ask for help with the POLO’s official Hotline Number 9403 9063. They can also answer the Unified Request for Assistance Form (URAF), which can be downloaded on the official Facebook page of POLO Kuwait through this link https://www.facebook.com/POLO.OWWA.KUWAIT/. After that, they can send the filled-up form to jadpolokuwait@gmail.com

Regarding the renewal of the OWWA membership, they can visit the POLO Kuwait Facebook page for further instructions and reminders. The verification services and “Balik manggagawa” processing is still suspended. The POLO office will announce additional advisories for the given services. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the office continues to ask for everyone’s understanding of the newly implemented ways to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being.

Advisory of Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait

It is good news for the Filipino community as the services in the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Office reopens. It will facilitate the needs and assist our fellow Kabayans, such as processing their passports and other concerns. Together with the other remaining Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Kuwait, let us continue to abide by the given protocols and measures to ensure our safety. If you struggle with in your current situation, many organizations are available to help you. Our sense of “Kabayanihan” prevails in this crisis.

“Kaya magpasakop kayo sa kapangyarihan ng Dios, dahil darating ang araw na pararangalan niya kayo. Ipagkatiwala nʼyo sa kanya ang lahat ng kabalisahan nʼyo, dahil nagmamalasakit siya sa inyo.”

1 PEDRO 5:6-7 (ASND)

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