By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The Cabinet decided late Monday to expand the partial curfew to 16 hours daily between 4 pm and 8 am starting from the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, expected to begin on Friday. The Cabinet also decided to keep government offices closed until May 28, which means after the end of Ramadan, in a bid to counter the spread of the coronavirus, where more than 2,000 cases have been reported in the country.

The government also decided to allow food delivery services and supermarkets to operate between 5 pm and 1 am daily throughout the fasting month. The Cabinet asked the ministries of interior and information to take all necessary legal actions against violators of home quarantines and curfew, adding their names will be announced in the media.

The ministry of health yesterday reported 85 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the total of infections to 2,080. Two deaths were reported as well, bringing total fatalities to 11. During its daily briefing, Health Ministry Spokesperson Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad said 46 patients are in intensive care, 20 of them in critical condition.

Those currently receiving treatment at hospitals reached 1,657 patients. The new death cases are of a 59-year-old Bangladeshi male and a 63-year-old Somali male – both were receiving treatment in intensive care units. Earlier yesterday, Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah announced the recovery of 45 patients, bringing the total to 412 recoveries.

Kuwait’s Central Bank said yesterday that banks must provide qualifying small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by the coronavirus outbreak with financing at a maximum 2.5 percent interest rate. Kuwait’s National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Development will provide 80 percent of the SMEs’ funding needs at no interest for up to three years, while banks will finance 20 percent and the state will support companies in paying the up to 2.5 percent interest for three years.