Coronavirus in KuwaitKuwait

Health ministry denies reports about Chinese team

KUWAIT: Spokesman for the health ministry Abdullah Al-Sanad speaks during a daily briefing on COVID-19 developments in Kuwait in this file photo. – KUNA

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The ministry of health yesterday categorically denied reports about recommendations made by a visiting Chinese medical team regarding ramping up efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Local media and at least one senior lawmaker said that the Chinese team has recommended to declare total curfew in the country and a lockdown on 10 residential areas in order to contain the spread of the deadly disease.

The reports said the recommendations were made after site visits made by the Chinese team including a visit to Jaber hospital where a majority of coronavirus cases are being treated. But the ministry said the reports are “totally untrue” and denied the team has made any recommendations, adding that the team has not even visited the Jaber Hospital.

Spokesman for the ministry Abdullah Al-Sanad said the Chinese team yesterday paid a visit to the operation of an application made by the ministry to monitor Kuwaitis who are at house quarantines after returning from abroad. Sanad also said the team was scheduled to visit Jaber Hospital yesterday and reiterated his denial of the reports.

‘Lack of planning’
But prominent opposition MP Shuaib Al-Muwaizri challenged the ministry to publish the report submitted by the Chinese team which he claimed has “angered the ministry and exposed its lack of planning and blunders at the Jaber Hospital.

Muwaizri also accused the ministry of focusing on a media show rather than trying to safeguard the lives of the Kuwaiti people. The lawmaker said the Chinese team has recommended that all medical staff and workers entering Jaber Hospital must wear masks and gloves, sterilize hands and wear the full protective gear. Patients must wear face masks.

Muwaizri claimed that the team found that not all health workers observe the required distancing and discipline. The lawmaker also called on the health minister to visit the sites and listen to the complaints of health workers, adding that it is not a shame to make mistakes but the real shame is attempting a cover-up.

The new controversy comes up as the health ministry on Wednesday reported 300 new coronavirus cases, the largest number on a single day. Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Basel Al-Sabah announced yesterday the recovery of 150 people from the coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the tally to 1,539. In remarks to KUNA, the minister said analyses and medical examinations and tests proved that these cases were cured of the coronavirus. The recovered will be transferred to the hospital recuperation ward, pending their discharge within the next few days, he said.

Trafficking probe
In the meantime, head of the national assembly human rights committee MP Adel Al-Damkhi yesterday said the panel will ask the national assembly to assign them to probe the trafficking in persons business in Kuwait. He said the interior ministry has formed an investigation committee into the issue but the matter also involves other sides like the manpower authority, the central tenders committee who have a role to play in fighting against visa traders, in addition to ministries who award contracts.

Damkhi said that the interior ministry committee is not enough as the assembly must play its role. We will monitor the ministry committee but the assembly must get involved. The lawmaker said that visa trading is a big business in Kuwait and there are people who “manufacture” traffickers in persons, who get everything facilitated like work permits, visas and exceptions. This is a network that imported the large numbers of marginal workers.

“All know that there are big heads and influential people behind this trade” Damkhi said, hinting at a key role for some officials. Meanwhile, the public prosecution is currently investigating into at least 12 visa trading cases involving around 65 suspects who are being accused of trafficking in persons, money laundering and violating residency and labor laws.

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