KUWAIT: The Cabinet said yesterday it is pleased with the health situation in the country following a sharp decline in the number of new coronavirus cases and as more than 2.5 million people have been vaccinated. During its weekly meeting, the Cabinet decided to restart all types of auctions in the country, provided only vaccinated people participate.

The new development comes as Kuwait is also witnessing a substantial decline in the number of patients at hospitals and in intensive care units. According to official health ministry figures, Kuwait has reported under 1,000 cases every day since July 21, and the number has dropped below 800 cases for the past four days. The number of cases in hospitals is below 1,000, while those in intensive care units dropped to only 291.

The improvement in the health situation comes despite Kuwait lifting all restrictions to pre-COVID-19 levels following a series of closures for about 17 months and after allowing residents to return to the country after a six-month ban. The 2.5 million people who have been vaccinated include people who received one or two doses, according to a statement by the Cabinet. “The Council of Ministers expressed satisfaction over the positive indicators that have been achieved,” said the statement. It appealed to the public to continue to observe health conditions and get vaccinated.

Earlier yesterday, National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem called on the health ministry and the civil aviation authority to find alternatives if two major applications used by travelers malfunction. He called on the two bodies to find a joint mechanism to use when the Immune app and Kuwait Mosafer platform do not function properly for travelers returning or leaving the country.

He said authorities at the airport should verify health documents with travelers so they are not delayed or prevented from leaving the country or returning for technical reasons. Ghanem’s statement comes after civil aviation officials said a limited number of residents were turned back after arriving at Kuwait airport for not registering their vaccination certificates.

Meanwhile, MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari called on authorities to abolish restrictions on the number of passengers returning to the country, saying that restricting the number of arrivals has resulted in a sharp rise in airfares. He said the restrictions, being enforced due to preventive health measures, have resulted in problems for travelers and cancellation of flights and reservations, causing financial losses to passengers and airlines as well.

The civil aviation authority said yesterday the first day of reopening the airport for expats after a six-month ban was successful and praised the cooperation of the ministries of interior and health, the customs department and airlines. It said 88 flights operated on the first day (Sunday) – 42 departures and 46 arrivals – carrying 8,451 passengers, of whom 3,518 returned.

Kuwait on Sunday began allowing residents who have legal residency and who have received two doses of approved vaccines to return to Kuwait after a ban since early February as part of containing the spread of the coronavirus. Vaccinated expats must upload their electronic vaccination certificates to the health ministry website, which will automatically update the travelers’ status and a green mark will appear on the Immune app.

Travelers must also complete registration on the Kuwait Mosafer platform and take a PCR test within 72 hours of the flight time. Officials said that a small number of expats had been sent back because they had not properly uploaded the vaccination certificate and as a result the green color did not appear on the Immune application.