‘No clear strategy on how to live with coronavirus’
KUWAIT CITY, May 19: Despite their praise and support for calls to ease restrictions of coronavirus crisis and implement gradual return of normal life in line with regulations at the end of this month, a number of MPs, politicians and economists describe the government’s views on implementing this approach as “vague” and “not specific”.
They said the return of normal life and coexisting with coronavirus require more transparency and seriousness, as the government has not presented a clear plan about what it would be like to live with coronavirus.
They affirmed that Kuwait initially excelled many countries in dealing with the coronavirus crisis, but the government’s actions reached a roadblock later whereby its decisions hit hesitation and confusion. They insisted that decisions to allow activities that were banned with the exacerbation of the epidemic revealed the weakness of the government’s decisions and absence of the planning horizon for finding solutions.
They called on the government to use local and international consultants to properly plan the gradual return of normalcy instead of random and confused decisions that could exacerbate the crisis eventually. In this regard, MP Safaa Al- Hashem said: “I support the return of life to normal if the health authorities give the green signal for this”.
She stressed that the return must be deliberate and with great commitment, ensuring adherence to all warnings, measures, precautions and instructions such as social distancing, use of masks and gloves,and continuous sterilization.”
Also, MP Muhammad Al-Dalal praised the introduction of the topic towards searching for a mechanism to coexist with the coronavirus crisis in case it persists. He stressed that the government should lay down a clear scenario for the next stage, irrespective of whether or not there is a cure for the disease.
Al-Dalal said, “It is not reasonable that we remain in total or partial lockdowns. An alternative plan for coexistence and gradual return to normal life must be established. In this regard, I will submit a parliamentary question to the State Minister for Cabinet Affairs about the government’s preparations for the next stage and how it will deal with all assumptions that may occur. This is to consider end of the epidemic in case a treatment is found or if the epidemic will continue for a long time, and what visions and strategic plans could be used to deal with the epidemic if it continues, including the topic of coexisting with the epidemic”.
Meanwhile, former minister Dr. Ali Al-Omair expressed enthusiasm about the return of normal life and the measures put in place to come out of the total lockdown through 12 steps that can be applied. He insisted that Kuwait has to learn from the experiences of other countries. Dr. Al-Omair said, “We are now witnessing gradual resumption of life in countries where the spread of the virus has been more deadly, such as Britain, the Netherlands and Germany. Despite being countries more developed in the health aspect, the infections were fatal and the death rate was high. Nevertheless, they have started returning to normal life. This is because irrespective of the impact of the virus, life has to move on.”
He added, “Kuwait will undoubtedly have to coexist with the virus. This was highlighted in the speech of His Highness the Prime Minister when he spoke about the end of this month, a date that seems to have been set in light of what was reported to him by the health authorities that the number of smears by that date will be required to know extent of the spread of the virus”.
In addition, Professor of Political Science at Kuwait University Shafiq Al-Ghabra said he believes the return to normal life should be gradual with careful consideration of the opinions of experts, doctors and specialists regarding the next steps, adding that politicians cannot act without taking into account the opinion of experts. He explained that the country needs an approach through which it is possible to answer many public questions.
The first would be to address about the groups that will represent the greatest danger upon return, and how the country will open. At the same time, it is necessary to protect the groups that can be affected negatively by further spread of the epidemic.
Consideration should be given to whether there will be classes that will continue to work from home for a while. Preparing for this step requires classifying all of the people living in the country into different categories related to safety and production. Al-Ghabra added, “The most dangerous thing that would happen is that the country opens without a deliberate plan and without listening to experts”.