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Coronavirus cases in Kuwait up to 26

SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES SUSPENDED FOR TWO WEEKS

❑ KHAIRAN CHALETS TO SERVE AS QUARANTINE ❑ 14 PHARMACIES SHUT OVER MASK PRICING

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 26, (Agencies): The number of coronavirus infections in Kuwait rose to 26 cases, announced the Ministry of Health on Wednesday.

In a statement to KUNA, the ministry said that the new recorded case is of a Kuwaiti national who recently travelled to Iran. All patients are in a stable condition and are receiving proper medical care, said the ministry.

It called on citizens and expats to abide by the issued rules on the matter to protect their health. Classes will be suspended for two weeks at schools and universities throughout Kuwait starting on March first, said a gov’t spokesman Wednesday.

Tareq Al-Merzem, head of the Kuwait’s Center for Government Communication (CGC) and government spokesman, said that the decision was made at the Cabinet meeting Wednesday.

The suspension includes students and members of the teaching staff, he indicated. The Al-Khairan chalets will serve as quarantine for those – returning from Iran – and suspected of contacting the corona virus, reports Al-Anba daily quoting sources.

The source stated the Touristic Enterprises Company has been informed of the government decision and that the utility has been evacuated of all workers and all those who are linked with the utility have been informed of the need to leave the park by Wednesday morning. The utility will serve as an additional quarantine.

Those who had paid money to book chalets will be returned back. It is worth mentioning the Khairan has 236 chalets. This measure has been taken because of the imminent return of about 500,000 travelers from abroad, mostly from Iran and Iraq. Mourners gathered at procession halls and cemeteries across the country will be given essential items such as facemasks and hand sanitizers amid an ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a municipal official said on Wednesday.

Kuwait’s municipality has taken stringent precautionary measures to help strengthen immunity against the novel coronavirus, Dr Faisal Al-Awadhi, the director of the municipality’s mortuary affairs department, said in a statement. He urged mourners to cooperate and follow all posted precaution signs to protect public health. Kuwait on Wednesday reported six new cases of coronavirus, upping the tally of infections in the country to 18.

Drugstores
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Trade and Industry closed 14 new drugstores for failure to commit to the decided prices of medical masks. Thus, the total number of closed pharmacies has risen to 19, the ministry said in a press statement. The shutdown is part of a campaign launched by the ministry to control the price of medical masks in the country.

Earlier on Tuesday, the ministry closed five pharmacies for raising the price of masks illegally. Cooperative societies across Kuwait should use any means necessary, including budget allocations, to help boost consumers’ immunity against the novel coronavirus, said a minister on Wednesday.

The Kuwaiti government has established a close rapport with cooperative societies nationwide in efforts to ensure that consumers get easy access to items such as facemasks and hand sanitizers to help keep the disease at bay, Minister of Social Affairs Mariam Al-Aqail told reporters. These cooperative societies carry an obligation to protect consumers even in the most difficult of circumstances, the minister underlined. An employee of the Audit Bureau has been at the center of disrespect for the country’s quarantine laws which came into force following the outbreak of corona virus, reports Al-Rai daily.

Violated
The employee, who allegedly returned from Iran who was subjected to mandatory quarantine for a certain period of time until proven he is not a carrier of the virus, but he allegedly violated the law and reported for work Sunday, thus turning a blind ear to the instructions given to returnees from Iran.

However, he was forced to leave the workplace after several employees of the Audit Bureau expressed concern about his presence and not adhering to the instructions. The main concern now is if the employee has been examined to ascertain if he is not a carrier of virus and if the answer is yes, may he have infected the people he mingled with? Will all those who came in contact with him be subjected to tests or will any other procedures be taken against them? And has the place where he works been disinfected. The sources criticized lack of clear mechanism in dealing with people who violate the domestic quarantine laws.

Meanwhile, continuing in their efforts to evacuate Kuwaitis from Iran and the willingness to evacuate others from Iraq, the Al-Rai daily said Kuwait is preventing pilgrims from visiting the two countries, following the detection of the virus in Mashhad, Iran.
However, the owner of one of the agencies that facilitate the pilgrimage activities, Ali Jamal, told the daily, “the problem currently is not stopping the activity of our campaigns, as much as finding urgent solutions for the return of the citizens who are still stuck in Tehran, and they number approximately 200.” He praised the Kuwaiti embassy in Iraq for taking, what he called ‘rapid steps’ and working for the repatriation of Kuwaitis who are stuck in Iraq. He put their numbers at between 250 and 300.

On the same issue, the daily said while there are many reports that some citizens returning from Iran do not adhere to the domestic quarantine until they are sure they are not infected with the new corona virus, constitutional expert Dr Muhammad Al-Faili told the daily whoever violates Article 17 of the Health Precautions Law which speaks of prevention from contagious diseases faces imprisonment of up to 30 days and a fine not exceeding KD 50 or either one of these two penalties.

Al-Faili added, “There are more severe penalties for those who violate the decisions mentioned in Article 15, concerning the emergence of a pandemic disease which is imprisonment of not more than 3 months and a fine of not less than KD 50 and not exceeding KD 200, or one of these two penalties.” He explained Law No. 8/1969 on health precautions against communicable diseases allows medical authorities to take measures that restrict the freedom of citizens, and also allows those responsible for confronting cases of infection to enter and disinfect citizens’ homes. He stressed that “this is not only something that does not violate the constitution, but it is necessary to confront the dangers whose effects can harm all people on the territory of the state.

The government of Kuwait has shown a big concern for all proposals and concerns raised in the media about the spread of the corona virus and the issue was to be discussed Wednesday during a special meeting, reports Al-Anba daily quoting reliable sources. The sources said the working group formed by the Council of Ministry, which is in a permanent session includes 5 ministers which is tasked with preparing a daily report on the developments, sicj as the discovery of new cases or the conditions of those who are quarantined inside the Al-Kout Hotel.

This is in addition to preparing the evacuation of Kuwaitis who are ‘trapped’ inside the country – in apparent reference to Iran – where the virus has spread and keep a track on the condition of those who are allowed to be quarantined in their respective homes. The sources announced the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working 24×7 with the Kuwaiti embassies abroad to meet the requests of Kuwaitis to return ‘home’.

About a decision that has been taken to temporarily suspend or freeze the fingerprint attendance system for employees or continue with taking medical precautions after successive warnings issued by doctors that the fingerprint is one of the means through which the virus can be transmitted and taking a decision to disrupt schooling or not, the sources said, the Cabinet will take an appropriate decision by next Saturday.

In the same context, higher educational sources told Al-Anba that disrupting schooling for a week can be easily done but more than that will lead to the extension of the scholastic year after Ramadan, which will disturb the study plan.

The sources indicated the schools are not ready to receive students in terms of medical supplies, noting that there is a significant shortage of temperature measuring devices, which do not exceed 550, while the number of schools in about 900.

The sources added the situation requires the provision of about two million masks for students and the teaching and administrative staff, as well as medical disinfectants, and this needs time to provide. The sources also revealed there is an intention to suspend contracts of foreigners at the moment until further notice, saying it is not possible for the delegations to travel abroad under these difficult circumstances.

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