MP slams ‘new’ health policy on virus testing

Shuaib Al-Muwaizri

By B Izzak
KUWAIT: Leading opposition MP Shuaib Al-Muwaizri yesterday accused the health ministry of limiting coronavirus tests to cases that require hospital admission only and denying them to scores of suspected cases. Addressing the prime minister from his Twitter account, Muwaizri said the ministry has declined requests by dozens of Kuwaiti families and individuals to undergo the tests.
The lawmaker claimed that people suspected of contracting the disease “now search for wasta (influence)” to take the tests and make sure they are safe. He said hundreds of millions of dinars have been spent on coronavirus-related plans and studies and several quarantine sites have been built, wondering if the ministry was trying to shift the blame of its “failure” to the people.
The ministry of health has so far not responded to the accusations, but many such complaints have appeared on social media. Local media reported yesterday that a 300-strong medical team from Cuba is expected to arrive in the country today to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The National Assembly is holding regular sessions on June 16 and 17 to debate issues and legislation related to the coronavirus crisis.
The ministry of health announced yesterday 710 new coronavirus cases in past 24 hours, bringing total count of cases to 29,359. The ministry’s official spokesperson Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad, in his daily briefing about the pandemic in the country, said four deaths were also reported in the same period, with the total number of fatalities amounting to 230 since the outbreak of the highly contagious disease in Kuwait.
All the contamination and death cases had mingled with other infected persons or individuals suspected of being ill with the virus. Sanad said none of the cases recorded in the past 24 hours had been linked to travel. The new cases include 256 Kuwaitis, 143 Indians, 93 Bangladeshis and 91 Egyptians, with the rest from other nationalities.
As to the cases recorded in hospitals and clinics in each health zone, Sanad said 282 in Farwaniya governorate, 140 were in Jahra, 130 in Ahmadi, 88 in Hawally, and 70 in Capital governorate. Up to 437 patients were discharged from quarantine in the past 24 hours. They will sequester themselves in their houses for not less than 14 days.
Sanad said up to 2,934 swab tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of such medical examinations for the virus to 303,285. He renewed the appeal to citizens and residents to take all necessary precautions to stem the spread of the contagion.
A number of MPs meanwhile said they will reject government-sponsored amendments to the labor law in the private sector that allows businesses affected by the coronavirus to reduce the salaries of their employees. The lawmakers said they will not accept the legislation unless the government provides protection to Kuwaitis employed in the private sector and excludes them from the proposed amendments.
MP Saadoun Hammad said the health and labor committee had already rejected the government amendments for failure to exclude some 70,000 citizens employed in the private sector. He said the panel had added a new provision to the amendments to exclude Kuwaitis from the law.
The amendments allow private sector establishments to ask their employees to take their annual leave with reduced pay not exceeding 50 percent or cut the salaries of employees by up to 50 percent based on mutual agreement. The government will decide which establishments are distressed.
The legal and legislative committee will study this week proposals to amend the rent law in order to reduce burden on tenants by allowing them to defer payment of rent until after the coronavirus crisis. One of the amendments calls for establishing a special bench in court to deal with rent disputes during the coronavirus and not include the period of shutdowns as part of the legal duration to file cases.
MP Adel Al-Damkhi asked the interior minister about the number of expats who violated the residency law in the past five years based on nationality. He also asked for the number of crimes committed by expats during the past five years based on nationality.

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