CORONAVIRUS DIARIES: Week #21 – Applying the Best Approach for Kuwait’s Recovery

CORONAVIRUS DIARIES: Week #21 – Applying the Best Approach for Kuwait’s Recovery

August 10, 2020

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

Victor Hugo

 The economy’s recovery is the top priority for every nation affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite its terrible consequences, our souls never lost hope in standing back up after experiencing a significant downfall. It is our nature to struggle through our dark days until we can succeed. Hence, we continue to stay strong and be confident in our gradual steps of restoring our situation to normalcy. 

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health reported 687 new COVID-19 cases with four additional fatalities and 509 recoveries. It brings to a total record of 72,400 cases, with 482 deaths and 64,028 recovered cases. Within the new cases, 443 are Kuwait citizens, while 244 are residents of various nationalities. In the governorates, there are 168 in Jahra, 168 in Ahmadi, 147 in Farwaniya, 117 in Hawally, and 87 in the Capital. As of now, there are 7,890 active cases wherein 117 of them are under the intensive care unit.

Update of COVID-19 Cases in Kuwait on August 10, 2020

The chart below shows the trend of daily reported cases, deaths, and recoveries of coronavirus patients in Kuwait. Looking at it, the rate of reported cases increased on August 05, 2020. However, it decreased by the following day and surpassed the recoveries rate again on August 10, 2020. It is a great relief that the majority of the days show a higher rate of recoveries than the new daily cases. I hope it will continue further to reduce the number of active cases in the country. 

Timeline of Cases from August 04, 2020 to August 10. 2020

Significant Improvements of His Highness the Amir’s Health

 On August 04, 2020, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah announced the remarkable improvements of the health of His Highness the Amir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. He recalled the distressing situation of Iraq’s invasion in Kuwait during the parliamentary session at the National Assembly. In his statement, he described Kuwaitis as a symbol of cohesion and unity, where all difficulties are overcome. 

 After that, he reassured the public of the preparedness and transparency practiced within the government in discussing its efforts against the coronavirus pandemic. He was surprised after knowing the inclusion of a request in the three-article parliamentary questioning the finance minister. According to him, they will talk about what they made wrong and their possible mistakes as well as what they do not know and what they should learn about their decisions. 

 He affirmed that the entire world deals with the coronavirus pandemic without knowing its extents except for God himself. Therefore, the government is prepared to listen to any parliamentary suggestions on their decisions. They will review these decisions considering that they are human where mistakes are possible to happen. Adjustments will be made as they face their responsibilities as the authorities of the country. Lastly, he assured the public that the Kuwait government would address the issues without any hesitation with the best of their capabilities. 

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

 In assessing Kuwait’s leaders’ efforts, it is undeniable that their great endeavors helped the community significantly. They handled the coronavirus situation within the country with the best of their capabilities. For that, I am very thankful from the bottom of my heart of all the sacrifices and decisions of our inspiring leaders. 

Success of Kuwaiti Global Oil Sales Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

Despite the coronavirus pandemic that the State of Kuwait faced, the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) overcame all its challenges to ensure the stability of their business. It is through digital platforms that KPC becomes successful, according to the Deputy Managing Director for International Marketing Jamal Al-Loughani.

 During these trying times, all of the departments of their state oil firms operated remotely, including their finances, sales and marketing, and human resources. It is to secure the high quality of their services and technical support to their customers. 

 Director Al-Loughani said that the employees applied different adjustments to adapt to the newly-introduced work system. The VPN and virtual programs facilitate internal communication. One of these things is Citric XenApp and Xen Desktop that provides compatibility and ease of use to most modern devices.

 Oil sector officials and employees conducted audiovisual meetings to follow up on their progress daily. It helped much to strengthen the essence of teamwork between the company’s employees. It enabled them to adapt flexibly until they can safely return to the offices. 

 Overall, he noted that the KPC successfully adapted to the change of work methods during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is only through the continuous work on the employees within their homes that they succeeded with proper management. 

The Minister’s Concern for Student’s Health Amid the Pandemic

While the threat of coronavirus continues, the education of the students should not be overlooked. On August 05, 2020, the Minister of Education (MoE) and Minister of Higher Education (MoHE) Dr. Saud Al-Harbi said that he prioritized the health of the students and the employees working in the ministry. The statement was mentioned to the Defense Minister after the National Assembly Speaker considered the requests discussing different issues. It includes other clarifications of the government’s policy as they exchange opinions for the best approach.

 Every nation faces the distressing effects of the pandemic according to its political, economic, and educational capabilities. The overall plan of the Ministry of Education stressed on the ending of the academic year 2019-2020 for the 12th-grade students. It also included the new school year, which will begin on October 04, 2020.

 Minister Al-Harbi drew his attention to the activation of the virtual classroom system. After deciding the cancellation of written tests in 12th-grade students, the evaluation shows 25 percent for participation and interaction, 25 percent for attendance and absence, 25 percent for submitted reports, and 25 percent for duties. Therefore, he affirmed the ministry’s preparation in completing the education of 12th-grade students. It can be done by uploading all educational curricula to the MoE website in PDF format. It will be widely accessible to the students.

 All the required accounts are activated, which will prepare the students, teachers, and parents in using the programs through various smart devices. For the next academic year, the kindergarten and grade one to three learners need asynchronous learning rather than distance education.            

 On the next Sunday, Kuwait TV will begin broadcasting recorded classes with 849 seminars for all subjects. The schedule of the recording for the first semester will soon be prepared, according to Minister Al-Harbi. The accounts activated in the educational portal include 10,203 technical supervisors and department heads, 73,415 teachers, and 457,220 students. Additionally, the ministry leaders can freely enter and follow up on its progress. 

 Furthermore, he clarified that the next academic year’s major subjects remain the same during the subjects offered in 2019 – 2020. Deduction of private school fees is also decided by about 25 percent. 

 For the scholarships, its registration will start from September 01, 2020, for all private and public education. He pointed out that 90 percent of it is allocated for general education students, while 10 percent is given to special education students. This is the detailed plan that includes specialization and conditions in the MOHE website by the Ministry of Education. 

The Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education Dr. Saud Al-Harbi

I commend the great concern of the Minister to the health and education of our growing students. They will soon be future leaders. Therefore, it is our duty to ensure that proper education is provided for them.

The Government’s Dedication for Every Student’s Education

 The resumption of classes for the students soon drew the attention of the authorities in prioritizing the nation’s students. His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah affirmed that the government carries its responsibility in tackling the challenges brought by the emerging health crisis in the field of education. According to him, the Kuwait government will spare no money and effort in giving the students suitable educational conditions. 

 He further added that they would cooperate with the National Assembly in taking the path where the least damages are procured. He stressed the continuous hard work and perseverance for student education. The State of Kuwait has its capability that we can all be proud of. Everything is done within a short period of time through exchanging opinions and perspectives with the Gulf, Arab, and world countries. 

 According to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the most prominent disorder within the education systems worldwide. Therefore, he warned the possible disaster that the growing generations will face where many human potentials are wasted, and decades of progress are undermined. 

 The authorities communicated with the countries in the Gulf, Arab, and Islamic regions as well as international organizations. Through it, they learned about the different experiences in which the state can benefit from effectively handling the health crisis. 

 Education is shared with the responsibility of executive and legislative authorities. Hence, the Kuwait government is perceptive in presenting the educational plan to the National Assembly. It will consider the views of the representatives for the great future of the country’s students. 

Closure of 10 Stores By Kuwait Municipality

 The Kuwait authorities remain stringent with their imposed measures against the transmission of the coronavirus disease. On August 10, 2020, the Kuwait Municipality reported the closure of 10 stores within the Hawally Governorate in July. Looking at their records, they issued 23 different fines and 2,405 warnings to coffee shops, restaurants, hair salons, and other establishments that violated the anti-coronavirus protocols implemented by the Health Ministry and the Kuwait Cabinet. 

It includes the shutdown of seven gold shops and two stores in Fahaheel. It is because they were discovered for selling counterfeit products.

Closure of Seven Gold Shops and Two Stores in Fahaheel

 The Head of the Municipality’s Hawally Office, Ahmad Al-Hazeem, reassured the public that its inspectors are continually monitoring the compliance of many store-owners in the region. He urged everyone to adhere to the rules to prevent the closure of their respective stores. 

The Monitoring Operations of the Kuwait Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI)

The constant monitoring of the Kuwait Municipality reassured the public that their transactions on these selling establishments remain safe and fair. The well-founded dedication of the authorities to monitor them is commendable.

Discussing Four Different Approaches for Economic Recovery

 The coronavirus pandemic affected Kuwait’s economy significantly. The chief of Kuwait Planning Agency said that there are four ways that the economy can gradually recover. During a virtual forum on the economic and financial ramifications of COVID-19 disease, four possible approaches are listed by the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (SCPD) Dr. Khaled Mahdi. It includes a choice for abrupt recovery, dual recovery, abrupt recovery associated with a steady stage, and a slow long-term recovery. 

 Dr. Mahdi predicted that the current oil-price rebound could possibly fast-track the recovery of the country’s economy. The council utilized economic models to foresee post-coronavirus circumstances. They also noted that other countries worldwide are currently examining the impact of the coronavirus health crisis. 

 He recalled the situation after the 2008 economic crisis, where global economic growth is recorded at remarkable rates. However, since early 2020, a normal economic slowdown is already observed. It is when the coronavirus pandemic hit the world while it is in the stage of the economic slowdown. Then, the interruption of supplies and trade exchanged happened between different countries. Lastly, he concluded that the decrease in oil prices caused the decline of the growth rates. Hence, it affected the labor market and the private sector negatively. 

COVID-19 Testing by the Health Ministry

 As the country slowly recovers in the third phase plan, the Ministry of Health remains constant and stringent in conducing coronavirus testing within the cooperatives and other establishments, especially to its workers. On August 07, 2020, they tested the employees in the Al-Mawashi Cooperative while Kuwait Steel Workers were examined on the following day. 

COVID-19 Testing of Employees in Al-Mawashi Cooperative
COVID-19 Testing of Kuwait Steel Workers

Today marks the 14th day of the government’s implemented the third phase to normalcy. As Kuwait walks to the path of recovery, we have seen a gradual restart of life from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite its continuous threat, many people have returned back to their livelihood but with caution and compliance to the precautionary measures.

Recovering back the nation’s economy and normalcy does not happen instantly. It takes a series of steps that we should strictly follow in order for us to transition to the next phase. For that, we should continue praying to God for the nation’s smooth recovery. In our lives, we can also start returning to our regular days. However, we bring the lessons of the past with the widespread conviction that prevention is better than cure.

Recovery Plan of the Philippines

 Back in our home country, the Philippine government presented the country’s National Action Plan (NAP) in handling the coronavirus outbreak within the nation. It is a strategic plan that is enabled by the national government, led by the local government unit (LGU), and is centered within how the community will respond to it. To know more about the NAP, here are the posted photos by the Philippine National Task Force against COVID-19 that contains the necessary information and guidelines for its implementation. 

It is excellent news to us Overseas Filipinos here in Kuwait that our homeland has also initiated their gradual recovery. My prayers are with the Philippine government as they give their full efforts in restoring the Philippine’s economy after being wrecked by the effects of COVID-19. 

Updates of Philippine Embassy in Kuwait

 In Kuwait, the Philippine Embassy released the official list of applicants granted with appointments on August 09-15, 2020. The Embassy advised these applicants to check the requirements for application and renewal of passport through https://bit.ly/KuwaitPEConsularServices

 For those applicants who applied for the online survey made available last June 22-24, 2020, all of them are given with appointments. For those individuals not listed below, the Embassy advised them to wait for more updates posted on its Facebook page.  To access the list, click here.

List of Applicants with Appointments in the Embassy for August 9-15, 2020

On August 08, 2020, the Embassy announced the opening of appointment slots for non-passport services. It includes the Authentication and Notarial with Special Power of Attorney and Civil Registration, such as Report of Birth or Marriage. The slots will be opened from August 09-13, 2020.

However, the registration for the passport appointment remains closed. We should wait for further updates on its reopening soon.

Infographic of Philippine Embassy in Kuwait

 The Embassy published the list of individuals whose passports have been received from the Philippines. It is for those who applied to the Embassy last June 2020. It advised those individuals on the list to visit the Embassy and get their newly-issued passport. Their office is open from Sunday until Thursday at exactly 7:00 AM until 12:00 PM. 

It reminded the public that claiming of passports do not require online appointments. To access the list, click here. To open other published lists for those individuals who still did not claim their passports, click the following links.

List of Individuals with Newly Issued Passports from Philippines

On August 09, 2020, another set of more than 300 Filipinos was repatriated to our homeland. Through a charted Kuwait Airways flight, our fellow Kababayans successfully made it back home.

Since June of 2020, about nine chartered Kuwait-to-Manila flights were facilitated by the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait. They managed to repatriate about 5,250 Overseas Filipinos since the beginning of the outbreak.

The virus outbreak in Kuwait prompted the suspension of civil wedding services within the Embassy. After five months, the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait held its first civil wedding where two Filipino couples are officiated on the solemnization of their marriage. It was conducted on August 10, 2020. 

 However, physical distancing and precautionary measures are strictly applied in its premises. Therefore, the Embassy will only solemnize the marriage of two couples at a time. It will also allow only two requisite witnesses for each couple as their guests during the ceremony. Lastly, the Embassy congratulated the first two couples as they wished them a happy married life. 

First Civil Wedding in the Embassy After Five Months

 After a long wait, the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait released a public advisory concerning the Online Appointment Priority System’s reopening on the expiring visas or passports.   The Embassy informed the Filipino community that the Online Appointment Priority System has finally opened for application and renewal of passports. It can be accessed through this link. https://bit.ly/KuwaitPEAppointment.

The Embassy can gather information for different applicants on their passport, or visa expiry dates through the given link. However, they will prioritize those passports who expired or will be expiring very soon. Once their appointment schedule is confirmed, the Embassy will notify these applications by posting the official list through its official Facebook page.

The Embassy reminded everyone that filling out the online form has no charge. Hence, dealing with fixers or scammers may ask you for a payment on getting an appointment or application form. If these incidents occur, they should file a formal complaint to the Embassy’s office for further investigation.

The Embassy will still not allow walk-in passport applicants. Furthermore, the applicants are reminded to fill out in advance their Passport Application Form. It can be downloaded through this link. https://bit.ly/KuwaitPEConsularServices. They must then bring their application form, current passport, and Civil ID during their scheduled appointment. To check the full list of requirements, click here https://bit.ly/KuwaitPEConsularServices. The exact amount for their transaction must be brought wherein KD19.500 is for application or renewal of passport, while KD26.000 is passport renewal with passport validity extension.

 Those individuals who do not appear on their time and date of appointment will be asked to acquire a new appointment schedule during the next round of registration. The second reopening of the Online Appoint Priority System will be available for 84 hours. It would accept responses from different applicants from 8:00 PM on August 09, 2020 until 8:00 AM on August 13, 2020. 

Advisory of Philippine Embassy in Kuwait

Kayo ang nagpapalakas at nag-iingat sa akin. Nagtitiwala ako sa inyo nang buong puso. Tinutulungan nʼyo ako kaya nagagalak ako at umaawit ng pasasalamat.

Salmo 28:7 (ASND)

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