By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: Derek, 45, was about to leave Kuwait for Manila on a chartered flight, but a day before the flight, he was pronounced COVID-19 positive by the Ministry of Health and was not allowed to leave. His employer relocated him to a secluded housing in Shuwaikh away from the crowded company accommodation in Riggae. But he was left there without enough food, he claims. Derek shared his circumstances with a friend, and within a few hours, he received aid from his church and from the Filipino community.

“I was terminated in March and was prepared to fly back to Manila immediately, but I was caught by the lockdown. So I stayed and waited for the opening of the airport again,” Derek told Kuwait Times. “This time, I was booked for September 10, but the airline requires a PCR test before the flight. So I went to a private clinic and tested positive.”

So far Derek is asymptomatic. “I don’t feel anything at all. I was okay before and am okay now. I don’t have any fever, any headache, any sore throat, no shortness of breath, nothing. I am definitely fine. I don’t have any underlying conditions of any sort, so I am okay, and would like to leave this place now,” Derek said.

“Thank God for the supplies from friends who are giving me things that I need here and also from the Filipino community. I got some fruits and vitamins from friends, and a rice cooker and a kettle from other friends. I got supplies from everyone who knows I tested positive,” he said.

Waiting it out
Derek is among a growing handful of expatriates currently living with the coronavirus. They may or may not have symptoms but are not sick enough to be in hospital. Some of them are waiting out their quarantine in order to go back to their home countries, while others are hoping to continue working in Kuwait.

Bruno, 33, and his 27-year-old pregnant wife are both quarantining at their home in Farwniya. Bruno tested positive for COVID-19, while his wife has tested negative. “I received a message from the ministry of health saying I was COVID-19 positive. It said I have to follow home isolation instructions and download an app – that’s it,” Bruno said.

Bruno has high blood pressure and is also a chain smoker. But he is still young and very concerned about the fate of his wife. “My concern is that my wife is pregnant and she brings food to my room every now and then. We sleep separately, but she is the only one I have in Kuwait. She wears a facemask and at least until now she is okay. But we live under one roof, so there’s no escape. I only have headache and body pain – other than that I am fine,” he said.

Jane, 45, works and lives in a Kuwaiti house in Abdullah Salem. Three of the people in her sponsor’s household of eight members have COVID-19, including her. “I cannot breathe properly, because I have asthma. I have a bad cough and feel very sick. I feel pain in my body and cannot sleep. I feel very tired. I am fighting and hoping to survive this pandemic because I have family in the Philippines. I have four kids and I want to see them grow up. This is the reason why I am working hard,” she told Kuwait Times.

Her male employer was the first to catch the virus in April. “He used to go out of the house almost every day. He got it in April and overcame it. In September, he caught COVID again, and transferred it to me and his five year old son. I am being cared for by my lady employer – they are very kind people. She always asks about me and comes and visits me in my room. I am praying to survive this – hopefully some medicine will work to kill the virus inside me. I will be okay and overcome this COVID and will live long,” said Jane, who asked that her real name be withheld.

New infections
Up to 829 people contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Kuwait in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 96,301, official spokesman of the Ministry of Health Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad announced yesterday. Meanwhile, five COVID-19 patients died in the same period, raising the total number of fatalities to 568. Dr Sanad, in a statement to the press, said the new batch of infected cases included a number of persons who contracted the virus due to mingling with people sickened with COVID-19, adding that infection circumstances of others were still to be determined.

The number of ailed people that continue to receive intensive medical care has amounted to 84, Dr Sanad said, noting that the whole count of proven cases that remain under treatment has reached 9,514. Medical staff conducted, during the past 24 hours, up to 4,534 swab tests, he said, putting the tally of such examinations, so far, at 684,204. The health ministry declared earlier that 718 of COVID-19 patients recovered during the same period, and revealed that the total figure of the recuperated stood at 86,219. Dr Al-Sanad appealed upon the public to remain vigilant and continue to heed the calls for protective measures against the highly contagious pathogen.